BANGKOK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A South Sumatra city plans to include virginity tests as part of its high school admission requirements next year, a scheme that has been criticised by education experts and women’s rights activists, Indonesian news reports said.
The plan came to light when H.M. Rasyid, the chief of the Prabumulih Education Agency, was quoted on a national website as saying he was proposing a 2014 state budget that included funds to conduct virginity tests on high school students and their contemporaries, the Indonesian news magazine Tempo reported.
According to Tempo and the Jakarta Globe newspaper, Rasyid said he was aware the policy would draw protests, but increasing instances of premarital sex and rampant prostitution in the region among female students had prompted the move.
“Every woman has the right to virginity, on the other hand, we expect students to not commit negative acts. Therefore, we plan to implement the policy next year,” the Jakarta Globe quoted him as saying. Indonesian girls start high school at around 15 or 16.
Dedi Gumilar, a lawmaker in the commission which oversees educational matters, criticised the plan and questioned its constitutionality, the Jakarta Globe reported.
“Do we have a law stating that students must be holy? It’s written in the country’s constitution that every citizen has the right to education,” the Jakarta Globe quoted him as saying on Tuesday.
This is not the first time officials have proposed virginity tests in schools in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country. A plan to carry out such tests in West Java in 2007 was dropped following a public outcry.
In 2010, a legislator in a regional parliament proposed that girls be admitted to state-funded schools only if they passed a virginity test, but nothing came of the proposal.
Many Indonesians place a high value on virginity, but pre-marital sex is not uncommon among the younger generation. The age of consent for heterosexual sexual activity is 19 for males and 16 for females, while the age of consent for homosexuals is 18.