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Proposed school virginity tests for high school students in Indonesian city found controversial

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
August 21st, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Indonesia, the Muslim world's most populous nation, strongly adheres to traditional, conservative values. Now, a South Sumatra city intends to implement virginity tests as part of its high school admission requirements. Set to begin next year, the measure has been criticized by education experts and women's rights activists.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - H.M. Rasyid, the chief of the Prabumulih Education Agency, was quoted on a national Web site as saying he was proposing a 2014 state budget that included funds to conduct virginity tests on high school students and their contemporaries.

According to print journalism reports, Rasyid said he was aware the policy would draw protests. He justified the measure by saying that increased instances of premarital sex and rampant prostitution in the region among female students 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.

One highly vocal critic has questioned its constitutionality. "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," Dedi Gumilar, a lawmaker in the commission which oversees educational matters told reporters.

It's not the first time officials have proposed virginity tests in schools in Indonesia. A plan to carry out such tests in West Java in 2007 was dropped following a public outcry.

A legislator in a regional parliament proposed that girls be admitted to state-funded schools only if they passed a virginity test two years ago -- 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. Indonesian girls start high school at around 15 or 16.

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