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Indonesia urged to block discriminatory pregnancy tests for schoolgirls

Amnesty International today called on the Indonesian government to block discriminatory efforts to institute pregnancy and virginity tests for high school girls.Media reports earlier this week say that the head of a vocational high school in Magetan, East Java, has forced students to undergo pregnancy tests as part of their eligibility to study.  The move follows attempts in September by a legislator in Central Sumatra to introduce virginity tests for female students.“These tests are not only intrusive and degrading but plainly discriminatory, as nowhere are men or boys subjected to any equivalent form of ‘moral’ testing”, said Isabelle Arradon, Amnesty International’s Indonesia researcher.  The school reportedly plans to carry out pregnancy testing every year.“This is yet another example of how gender stereotyping and discrimination can stop Indonesian women from accessing their basic rights,” said Isabelle Arradon.Amnesty International’s November report Left Without a Choice: Barriers to Reproductive Health in Indonesia described a web of discriminatory laws and practices that deny Indonesian women who become pregnant outside marriage full access to maternal care and reproductive health.Laws that restrict sexual and privacy rights have increased in recent years in Indonesia, largely due to political decentralisation.  These include laws that criminalize consensual sex between adults, or punish unmarried adult men and women who are alone together (for example regulations on khalwat in Aceh province). Women have been particularly vulnerable to these restrictions, due to gender-stereotyped views on sexuality, and because they can become pregnant. Pregnancy outside marriage can be interpreted as proof of a crime. The overall context of restrictions of sexual and reproductive rights in Indonesia also put women and girls at risk of unwanted pregnancies, which can leave them vulnerable to a range of health problems and human rights violations, such as being forced to marry young or drop out of school.