Indonesian Army Chief Announces End of “Virginity Tests” for Recruits
The army found the use of the extremely invasive testing dubious and has instead decided to focus on other matters that can be tested more equally across male and female recruits.
No More Virgin Testing
The Indonesian army confirmed Wednesday that it is ending the use of “virginity tests” on female recruits after Gen. Andika Perkasa, Army Chief of Staff, hinted at the possibility of the move last month.
Though the practice has long been denounced both domestically and internationally, the army claimed for years that the so-called “two-finger tests” — the name of which gives away how it was conducted — were important in determining a recruit’s morality by checking the appearance of the hymen.
However, the army has decided to follow the actions of the Indonesian navy and air force, both of which abandoned the tests in favor of treating male and female recruits the same.
The only difference in testing between genders at the air force and navy when applying to join is regarding reproductive health, as female recruits are required to undergo a pregnancy test. Yet, the moral stance that anchored the testing for years wasn’t completely unique and is still common in Muslim countries, with Indonesia being the largest in the world.
Activists have railed against the tests both in the armed services and in other parts of Indonesian life. In fact, activists like Faye Hasian Simanjuntak have said that arguing about whether remaining a virgin was an indicator of someone’s morality was useless.
“I don’t think a woman’s morality or worth should be dependent on her status as a virgin or not… That said, when we discuss it, I don’t use that argument, because then it is an argument on morality,” she told The New York Times.
‘The approach we use is simply: Virginity tests are not able to find out whether a woman is a virgin or not.”
Simanjuntak is correct that tests on one’s hymen have little scientific value in whether or not someone is a virgin, as the World Health Organization pointed out in a statement from 2018. For many, their hymen can break for a wide plethora of non-sexual reasons, which in the case of Indonesia, would have barred them from military service and caused them to face social ostracization despite no other evidence about their virginity.
Additionally, the tests are considered grossly invasive, so much so that the WHO’s 2018 statement said,“‘Virginity testing’ reinforces stereotyped notions of female sexuality and gender inequality.”
“The examination can be painful, humiliating and traumatic. Given that these procedures are unnecessary and potentially harmful, it is unethical for doctors or other health providers to undertake them,” the organization concluded.
Indonesia is just the latest nation to ban the practice in certain circumstances. Earlier this year, a judge in Pakistan ruled that police cannot force ‘virginity tests’ onto victims of sexual assaults. The judge agreed that not only can it be extremely traumatic, but also found that the tests used by police and the community “to cast suspicion on the victim.“
However, there are places in the world where such tests rarely don’t occur that are now considering bans. One such place is New York, where rapper T.I. revealed last year that he forces his daughter to have her hymen checked once a year. The revelation drew widespread condemnation and has led to New York lawmakers considering a ban on the practice.
See what others are saying: (CBS News) (The New York Times) (ABC News)
95-Year-Old Woman Dies After Police Tases Her in Nursing Home
The officer involved was suspended with pay and charged with assault.
A 95-year-old Australian woman whom police tasered in a nursing home last week has reportedly died from her injuries.
Clare Nowland, who had dementia and required a walking frame to stand up and move, was living at the Yallambee Lodge in Cooma in southeastern Australia.
At about 4:15 a.m. on May 17, police and paramedics responded to a report of a woman standing outside her room with a steak knife.
They encountered Nowland, then reportedly tried to negotiate with her for several minutes, but she didn’t drop the knife.
The five-foot-two, 95-pound woman walked toward the two officers “at a slow pace,” police said at a news conference, so one of them tasered her.
She fell to the floor and reportedly suffered a fractured skull and a severe brain bleed, causing her to be hospitalized in critical condition.
Nowland passed away in a hospital surrounded by her family, the New South Wales police confirmed in a statement today.
After a week-long investigation, the police force also said that the senior constable involved would appear in court next week to face charges of recklessly causing grievous bodily harm, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and common assault.
NSW police procedure states that tasers should not be used against elderly or disabled people absent exceptional circumstances.
Following the incident, community members, activists, and disability rights advocates expressed bewilderment and anger at what they called an unnecessary use of force, and some are now questioning why law enforcement took so long to prosecute the officer involved.
See what others are saying: (Reuters) (The New York Times) (CNN)
U.K. Police Face Backlash After Arresting Anti-Monarchy Protesters
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said that some of the arrests “raise questions” and “investigations are ongoing.”
The Public Order Act
A controversial protest crackdown law in the U.K. is facing criticism after dozens of anti-monarchy protesters were arrested during the coronation ceremony in London over the weekend.
The law, dubbed the “Public Order Act” was passed roughly a week ahead of the coronation for King Charles III. It gives police more power to restrict protesters and limits the tactics protesters can use in public spaces. It was condemned by human rights groups upon its passing, and is facing a new round of heat after 52 people were arrested over coronation protests on Saturday.
In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said protesters were arrested for public order offenses, breach of the peace and conspiracy to cause a public nuisance. The group said it gave advance warning that its “tolerance for any disruption, whether through protest or otherwise, will be low and that we would deal robustly with anyone intent on undermining the celebration.”
It is currently unclear how many of those arrested were detained specifically for violating the Public Order Act, however, some of those arrested believe the new law was used against them.
“Make no mistake. There is no longer a right to peaceful protest in the UK,” Graham Smith, the CEO of anti-monarchy group Republic tweeted after getting arrested. “I have been told many times the monarch is there to defend our freedoms. Now our freedoms are under attack in his name.”
An Attempt to “Diminish” Protests
During a BBC Radio interview, Smith also said he believes the dozens of arrests were premeditated.
“There was nothing that we did do that could possibly justify even being detained and arrested and held,” Smith claimed.
“The whole thing was a deliberate attempt to disrupt and diminish our protest.”
Yasmine Ahmed, the U.K. Director of Human Rights Watch, also tweeted that the arrests were “disgraceful.”
“These are scenes you’d expect to see in Russia not the UK,” she wrote.
When asked about the controversy, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told reporters officers should do “what they think is best” in an apparent show of support for the Metropolitan Police.
For his part, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he is looking into the matter.
“Some of the arrests made by police as part of the Coronation event raise questions and whilst investigations are ongoing, I’ve sought urgent clarity from Met leaders on the action taken,” Khan tweeted.
See what others are saying: (The Guardian) (CNN) (The Washington Post)
Foreign Nationals Make Mad Dash out of Sudan as Conflict Rages
The conflict’s death toll has surpassed 420, with nearly 4,000 people wounded.
As the 10-day-long power struggle between rival generals tore Sudan apart, foreign governments with citizens in the country scrambled to evacuate them over the weekend.
On Sunday, U.S. special forces landed in the capital Khartoum and carried out nearly 100 American diplomats along with their families and some foreign nationals on helicopters.
An estimated 16,000 Americans, however, remain in the country and U.S. officials said in a statement that a broader evacuation mission would be too dangerous.
Christopher Maier, the assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity warfare, said in a statement that the Pentagon may assist U.S. citizens find safe routes out of Sudan.
“[The Defense Department] is at present considering actions that may include use of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to be able to observe routes and detect threats,” he said.
Germany and France also reportedly pulled around 700 people out of the country.
More countries followed with similar efforts, including the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Canada, China, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and Indonesia.
Yesterday, a convoy carrying some 700 United Nations, NGO, and embassy staff drove to Port Sudan, a popular extraction point now that the airport in Khartoum has closed due to fighting.
Reports of gunmen prowling the capital streets and robbing people trying to escape, as well as looters breaking into abandoned homes and shops, have persuaded most residents to stay indoors.
Heavy gunfire, airstrikes, and artillery shelling have terrorized the city despite several proposed ceasefires.
Over the weekend, the reported death toll topped 420, with nearly 4,000 people injured, though both numbers are likely to be undercounted.