An Indonesian education official's uncanny suggestion of implementing virginity tests for students has created ripples across the country, drawing mostly negative feedback and public ire.
The Prabumulih education agency in South Sumatra came up with the controversial proposal of inducting virginity tests on high-school student from the session 2014, with an attempt to bring into check the escalating cases of premarital sex and prostitution.
"We're planning on conducting virginity tests for senior high school students. We have proposed it in the 2014 regional budget," said HM Rasyid, chief of the Prabumulih Education Agency as reported by Jakarta Globe.
"Every woman has the right to virginity, though on the other hand, we expect students to not commit negative acts. Therefore, we plan to implement the policy next year," he added.
The proposal, however, has led to severe repercussions in the country with major public figures and rights groups taking a stand against the decision, calling it a violation of human rights and personal freedom.
Deputy chairwoman Masruchah of Indonesia's National Commission on Violence Against Women group condemning the move as unethical was quoted by AAP as saying, "Virginity is a personal issue, and a person has a right over their own body. Morality cannot be determined by [a student's] genitals."
"What will they do with the test results? Are they going to reveal which students are not virgins?"
Education and Culture minister Mohammed Nuh told reporters in Jakarta that the move was insensitive and biased and would not have his support. "What should be done if [a female student] had done it [had sex]? Should [she] be banned from school, or what?" said Nuh.
"Should there be a virginity test for male students as well? Does such a test exist?"
For the Muslim-dominated Indonesia, the decision of imposing virginity tests has evoked varied reactions, but mostly negative. Many took to social networking sites to express the displeasure of the decision which could emotionally and academically scar many students.
The validity of the test which involves physical examination of female genitals was questioned by South Sumatran Legislative Council deputy speaker HA Djuahari who opined, "There are female students who may have lost their virginity due to an accident. It is not their fault."
Voicing similar concerns, Aris Merdeka Sirait of National Commission for Child Protection told Associated Press (AP), "Loss of virginity is not merely because of sexual activities. It could be caused by sports or health problems and many other factors. We strongly oppose this very excessive move."
Ibnu Hamad, the Indonesian spokesperson for Education Ministry, told Jakarta Globe that it could only counsel the agency but would look into the matter so that students' education will not be hampered.