Plans to force girls in South Sumatra to have virginity tests as a condition of admission to school are very unlikely to go ahead (Reuters)
Indonesian officials have dismissed proposals for compulsory virginity tests, with education minister Mohammad Nuh saying it would be a violation of rights and principles.
A group of education-based NGOs also criticised the plan put forward by Muhammad Rasyid, head of the education office in South Sumatra's district of Prabumulih, saying virginity tests would be illegal.
"The purpose of such a test is absurd. The 1945 Constitution as well as the 1999 Human Rights Law stipulate that education is one of every citizen's constitutional rights. Therefore, the right of access to education cannot be denied under any circumstance," the coalition said in a statement to The Jakarta Post.
Outlining his plans, Rasyid said he planned to enforce virginity tests for all female high school students from next year, before they start school.
He said the tests would dissuade girls from engaging in "negative activities", such as pre-marital sex and prostitution.
"The test will be implemented in 2014 and will be paid for from the city budget," he said.
However, his proposal received widespread criticism and it is very unlikely he will be able to push forward with the virginity tests - a similar plan was scrapped in another province in Sumatra in 2010 following public outcry.
Ardiansyah Fikri, deputy mayor of Prabumulih, said local authorities will not support Rasyid's proposal, also meaning there is little chance of the tests going ahead.
Opponents said compulsory virginity tests violate human rights and are discriminatory against girls.
Provincial education chief Widodo said: "There are many more important and useful things that need to be cared for rather than such a test. As students, they need to be nurtured more than be judged."
Aris Merdeka Sirait, from the National Commission for Child Protection in Jakarta, said Rasyid had proposed the test to increase his popularity among more conservative members of the community, adding that the test is pointless anyway.
"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."
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