Female recruits hoping to join Indonesia’s police force are forced to undergo two-finger “virginity tests”, a rights group has found, a practice that leaves the women traumatised, humiliated and in pain.

The test is listed publicly as a requirement to enter the force and performed as part of the chief of police’s health inspection guidelines for new candidates, which requires women to complete an “obstetrics and gynaecology” exam.

While female recruits are also expected to be single and not marry until they have been in the force for a few years, Indonesia’s national police website claims they must also undergo virginity tests in addition to general medical and physical examinations, with the added warning: “So all women who want to become policewomen should keep their virginity.”

The practice contravenes Indonesia’s national police principles as well as international human rights policy, says Human Rights Watch (HRW), which interviewed female police recruits and serving female officers across six cities.

While women who “failed” the test were not necessarily prevented from entering the force, all of those interviewed said the examination was painful and traumatic and described the practice as widespread.

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