08/20/2013, 00.00
INDONESIA - ISLAM
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In Sumatra, female students to undergo virginity tests to fight prostitution

by Mathias Hariyadi
A proposal to such an effect comes from HM Rasyid, head of the Department of Education in Prabumulih Regency. Concerned for high school kids, he wants the measure introduced next year. This has proven controversial on social networks and among civil society groups. The commodification of the female body is a widespread phenomenon that also affects the very young.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Beginning with the 2014-2015 school year, high school girls might be required to undergo a virginity test. Made by the head of the Prabumulih Department for Education, South Sumatra province, the proposal has already sparked controversy with hundreds of people posting outraged or sarcastic comments on social networks with regards to ​​HM Rasyid's "crazy" idea. Unperturbed, the latter has indicated that he does not intend to back down, hopeful that in the coming months he might get the money to implement his plan.

As media reported in Prabumulih, the education official explained his proposal yesterday. In his view, virginity tests would be an effective way of fighting child prostitution, including among high school girls.

Although he agrees that this is "a private matter" and that tests could be construed as "a violation of human rights", he still wants them since they are an effective way to prevent "adultery or prostitution."

Though illegal in Indonesia, prostitution is widespread with places "reserved" for that purpose and nightclubs "providing" company to visitors. In particular, in the big cities pimps use young women and girls of school age to make quick and easy money. As "call girls", the latter often sell their bodies to meet big city expenses, pay for college or live the high life.   

Indonesia is the most populous Muslim nation in the world. Although individual rights are protected under the constitution, including religious freedom, the country has seen a rise in violent attacks against minorities and laws that discriminate based on gender.

In Aceh, local authorities have implemented Islamic law, the only province in the archipelago to do so; however, more and more regions are coming under the influence of radical extremist views of Islam.

Increasingly, bans are imposed in personal matters, such as the women straddling motorcycles or wearing jeans or short skirts, with a 'morality police' specially trained to enforce bans.

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