First Adm. Julius Widjojono, a spokesman for the Indonesian Navy, said, “It’s not virginity test, but we call it obstetrics and pregnancy test.” He said men and women were subjected to the same test, and then interviewed. “I call this battery test,” he said. “With these tests, we will know the complete condition of the navy officer candidate.”
Indan Gilang Buldansyah, a spokesman for the air force, described its test as a “reproduction health test” for male and female recruits. For women in particular, he said, the test is meant to ensure that “the recruitment candidate will have no problem in her education and placement.” He said the discovery of a cyst could interfere with a woman’s education.
Mr. Harsono said health concerns had historically been used in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, as a cover for carrying out so-called purity testing. Human Rights Watch investigated the practice in Indonesia in 2014; the Home Office, which hires civil servants, stopped using the procedure that year, and the police force did so in 2015, he said.
The tests still happen in other countries. In January, a Pakistani court banned their use by the police in sexual assault cases, saying the procedure was “used to cast suspicion on the victim.” Afghanistan also banned the tests, without success.
The American rapper T.I. prompted outrage in 2019 when he said he brought his teenage daughter to yearly appointments to make sure her hymen was intact. The comments spurred New York lawmakers to consider outlawing the practice.
In Indonesia, many women have endured it.
Faye Hasian Simanjuntak, 19, grew up being shuttled from one military base to another as the daughter of a military officer. As she got older, she became aware that women in the army and the wives of male soldiers were subjected to the procedure.
“Just about every female I knew grew up with it,” she said. “You could safely assume all the women had gone through that.”