Minggu, 17 Mei 2015

Human Rights Watch’s Press Release on Virginity Test on Indonesia’s National Police Recruitment: From Women’s Rights to Human Rights

Virginity test is one of requirements of Indonesia National Police’s recruitments that written in Chief Police Regulation Number 5 Year 2009 on Health Inspection implicitly. The test is aimed to know whether applicants still virgin or not by finding out the hymen has interaction through two fingers test. Many female applicants do not acknowledge the existence of the test and tend to have bad experiences during the procedure, yet feel have no power to object it.
Looking at that practice, Human Rights Watch (HRW)—as mentioned by Minch (2011, 500)—as leading international organization that focuses on human rights give a response. They established a press release on 18 November 2014 after doing some research by interviewing different actors from many different cities in Indonesia. The press release follows by many of the international and local medias covered virginity test as a part of National Police requirements in Indonesia, for example CNN, ABC, NPR, New York Times, and Aljazeera by citing the press release. The press release itself on the website has been shared on the social media, for instance on Twitter (1,504) times and Facebook (more or less 5,000 times).
The raising of the discourse has brought up the question on how HRW convinces the reader—by convincing the press editor first to be covered. To answer the questions, context of the text is given to understand the background of the back in more details. Then, the press release is revisited by doing content analysis that offered by Alexander (2009). Beside that it is also used argumentation analysis, so that analysis table and synthesis table that offered by Gasper (2000, 7-10) are used. The reason and procedure in doing this analysis is explained as well. In next section, it shows how HRW builds the argument and the findings of analysis. The essay ends by conclude the analysis.

Context of the Text
The concept of virginity is contested in Indonesia because it is determined by social and political background. Revisit the meaning of virginity literally helps us to understand the concept. Based on Indonesian Dictionary from Indonesian Language Centre under Ministry of Education that has published online (Indonesian Language Centre, 2015), virginity has three meanings. First, it refers to woman who has not experience sexual intercourse. Second, it refers to woman who is ready to get married. Third, it refers to anything that has not been touched.
Linking the literal meaning to the context also reconfirmed the contestation of virginity concepts. According to Soeradji and Efendi (2014, 328-329), virginity is seen as the dignity of women, so that it is an important concept in Indonesia that need to be protected before marriage. In the same article, they also explain about contested meaning of virginity in legal terms regarding to marriage registration in Indonesia that should have answered virginity status. The meaning could refer to women who have never experienced sexual intercourse or also do not have any sexual intercourse before marriage. The protection of virginity is legitimized by the religion (Soeradji and Efendi 2014, 330) by defined it as a big sins. It is in line with Paxton and Simon (2004, 400) say that people who are believe in religion and social norms tend to neglect pre-marital sex to avoid pregnancy and lost virginity. Wieringa (2014, 28) also reconfirms that pre-marital virginity is being a normative in Indonesia. Therefore, virginity status tends to be an indicator as an image of good woman in the society regardless the scientific evidence behind the assumptions.
That assumption is used to be the indicator of qualified women. For instance, virginity test is offered among school students in Jambi, central Sumatra in Indonesia in 2013 (Kashyap. 2015) . Not only that, Indonesia’s National Police makes virginity test as one of their recruitment procedures under health examination and it is legitimized by Chief Police Regulation Number 5 Year 2009 on Health Inspection. The aimed of the test is filtering police force from bad image women. Beside the unscientific assumption, the practice of virginity test is also painful and traumatic for female applicants. It is assigned as discriminatory practice for women.
It brings a response of HRW to establish a press release that says the practice also violates human rights, so that it contravene to international law as well. This press release titled “Indonesia: ‘Virginity Tests’ for Female Police” (Human Rights Watch. 2015a) is the text that is analysed in this essay (Annex 1). It contains the result of HRW’s research of virginity test and its long-term impacts on female applicants. It continues by explaining the international law that consists of human rights violation. It is clearly seen in the text that HRW’s press release is used same vocabulary in international law to explain that virginity test is a violation to international human rights, so the correlation is easier to see. For instance, they use “cruel”, “inhuman”, and “degrading” in the press release and also mentioned in International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and Convention Against Torture.
This press release on behalf of the institution, that is Human Rights Watch. Minch (2011, 500) states that HRW is doing “investigation, authoring reports containing well researched and influential analysis, “naming and shaming” governments, addressing government officials as well as the wider public, and working to create the political and legal groundwork for long term, structural change”. Knowing that their publishes has been referenced by many international organizations, credible medias, and also policy arguments, it shows that HRW is a qualified organization. They are potential to play a role in emergence of discourse.
Response of international media and local media covered HRW’s press release, even it cannot be said as the only factor, has raised the discourse in Indonesia. Feeling the pressure from international level, it is strengthened the movement to show objection of virginity practice in National Police recruitment procedure. There was an online petition to Head of Indonesia’s National Police, Sutarman, that based on HRW’s press release (Harsono. 2015) and had success to get 1,319 supporters. Even it is not a big number, but it helps the discourse of discriminatory virginity test to be role in society.
HRW does not stop the effort in press release regarding to abolish virginity test. They also establish News on 2 December 2014 (Human Rights Watch. 2015b) and Dispatches on 9 February 2015 (Kine. 2015). On 9 March 2015, they also establish news to confirm Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo’s statement regarding to the changing of that regulation—“on the heels of Human Rights Watch research” as quoted in HRW’s website (Kotowski. 2015) .

Methods of Analysis
After knowing the context of the text, it is important to find out the methods that are going to be used. This essay is using content analysis as in Alexander (2009) and argumentation analysis as in Gasper (2000) by combining Scriven’s method and Toulmin-Dunn’s methods. Content analysis is used to see the overview of the text using words count, concordance and collocation. It helps to see which part is needed to get attention. Alexander (2009, 28) mentions word count can be seen as the stress that writer made. This method uses software which special to do concordance called AntConc.
Beside content analysis, argumentation analysis is seen as appropriate approach since the text is press release. The aim of press release as institutional paper is spreading the research’s results to get acknowledge and to raise the issue to be concerned by stakeholders, but first convince the press’ editor to cover the news. Therefore, it has to be convincing. Readers are expected to take the issue seriously and spread the news to encourage politic pressure. To achieve that, it needs good argumentation. It is also in line with van Dijk’s (1997, 208) statement relating to argumentation analysis, “argumentation uses language to justify or refute a standpoint.”
In order to see the argumentation, structure and meaning behind the text are significant factors, therefore Scriven’s steps are used in this essay to make analysis table, though it is not complete steps that offered (Scriven 1976, 39-45) . The analysis table (Annex 2) contains three different columns. The first one is the text itself and is divided structurally as initial identification that Gasper (2000, 6) has suggested or mentioned as step 0 as preliminary step. It is divided the text by the components and helps in doing synthesis table later on to structure the claims.
The second table explores the component of meaning. In this table, meaning of each word and sentence’s structure are explained as Scriven mention as step 1 (clarify meaning of terms). It is also concise table since it also mentions critic and praise language within the text as Gasper suggested  (2000, 10-11). It is very helpful to see meaning behind the text itself and also helpful tools in doing synthesis table later on. It is followed by third table that explores assumptions and conclusion that stated or unstated in the text. According to Scriven (1976), it is part of step 2 which is identifying stated or unstated conclusions and step 4 which is formulate unstated assumptions. The table refers to Gasper’s (2000, 9, 2003, 21) work.
Gasper also has reformulated Toulmin-Dunn’s method into table that is in line to analysis table (2000, 5-8, 2003, 12-15). Toulmin-Dunn can help to see the sequence or argumentation’s logic that relies on Claims, Grounds, Warrants, and Rebuttal and Gasper has proposed to present it in a handy table. This is the content of synthesis table (Annex 3). As a reflection, making analysis table and synthesis table in different steps and continuing are important things. I made a mistake by combine those two at first and did not run really well. It is a common mistake by amateur as mentioned by Gasper (2000, 5), so that the analysis was very slow and unreliable, not to mention the table was unclear. It should be done first without labeling components.
This method has been very useful since it shows the logical framework of the text, although it is still have limitation as Gasper (2003, 13-14) mentioned that it often simplifies the argumentation and also just look in vertical way of thinking (the means-ends chain).

From Women’s Rights to International Human Rights
HRW’s press release contains argumentation that shows virginity tests for female applicants is a form of human rights violation. HRW makes the discourse to be broaden by take it as human rights that is more universal and also contain basic rights for everyone. It is seen by using of the word “rights” in the press release is high compare to others, say 30 times. There are some words that have higher number of using: “police” (68 times), “test” (45 times), and “virginity” (35 times). “Rights” gets more attention since the other three mostly used because of explicitly appear to connect with the theme: virginity test for policewomen. However, “rights” intends to show the discourse that HRW wants to bring out and it is in line with Alexander’s statement that “the role of lexical repetition should not be underestimated” (2009, 28).
Using collocation, “right” almost always appear with “human” in the left side for 23 times and it stands beside “women” for 5 times, but the last one also mention “women’s rights indirectly, therefore it should be counted. The figure below (Figure 1) shows us that in the text, “rights” tends to appear with “human rights” and “women’s rights”, thus it stresses that HRW brings the discourse of virginity tests to human rights, not only for women’s rights. It also expresses implicitly that women’s right is also a part of human rights.

Figure 1

Bringing it to human rights as an international issue also can be a good strategy. There were some efforts to object virginity test in internal team, but there was no response from Indonesia’s National Police or local police officials. When there was a memo from international organization, it got response quickly. The memo from international organization has important element since it is repeated in this press release. Critiques from internal are not heard might be because it does not impact the image of National Police. However, if the critiques come from, for instance, international organization, there is an effort to stop the test since it affects Indonesian image in international level. Moreover, this is not the first time Indonesia has human rights issue that acknowledge internationally. For instance, just a year before, virginity tests also practiced in Indonesia for female school students. Thus, it will affect the political bargaining power as well. As mentioned before, it also can be seen by the response of Indonesian government when this press release, from international organization, successfully plays role raising the discourse in international level.

Hiding the Responsible Actor(s)
HRW asks Indonesian government as actor who has authority to abolish the test. It shows in opening of the press release “The Indonesian government subjects female applicants for Indonesia’s National Police to discriminatory and degrading “virginity tests,” Human Rights Watch said today.” It directly says the aim of the press release. Moreover, HRW mentions the Indonesian government to achieve higher position in hierarchy structure in case National Police as institution that should be responsible of this test has not response as several times experiences. This strategy seems more successful since Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo gives statement to change the regulation on 9 March 2015 (Kotowski, 2015).
It is also interesting to see that only HRW and women activists bravely and consciously mention the responsible actor. Female applicants tend to hide the actor by using passive sentences forms when telling their experience regarding virginity test in interview. A 24-year-old-female applicant says:
We were told to enter an examination room…”
“We were ordered to strip to our underwear.”
“We were told enter a separate room without a door.”
A 19-year-old-female applicant explains her experience:
“My group…was asked to enter the hall and was asked to take off our clothes.”
            “”We’re asked to sit on a table for women giving birth.”
            “We were asked to put on our clothes.”
Another female applicant who is 18-year-old says:
            “I was told that there was a health examination.”
“Twenty female applicants were told to enter a hall for the physical examination. They were then told to enter a room and told a lie down.”
Those sentences show that they do not say directly who have told or ordered them to do that, though we can assume that it refers on behalf of Indonesia’s National Police, either they are medical staffs or police officers. Nonetheless, there are some passive form sentences that need to get attention due to hiding the responsible actor. Here are some examples. “The “virginity tests” are conducted under Chief Police Regulation Number 5 Year 2009.” Instead of telling the actor explicitly, they used regulation to show the authority and also legitimation of the practices. Another example is, “Because men are not subjected to virginity testing” hides the actor that has the authority to subject the test. In interview, Veryanto Sitohang as executive director of one of Non-governmental Organization, Aliansi Sumut Bersatu, says, ”It (virginity test) should be stopped.” However, the actor that has power to stop is not mentioned neither.

Virginity Tests are Discriminatory for Women
The press release tries to convince the reader that virginity test is as discriminatory practice for women. It is said to be a part of health examination, but there is no correlation between virginity status and health. Therefore, the meaning of virginity concept needs to be questioned. Looking at the context and the way the do the test, it refers to sexual intercourse. The test has been done to see interacted hymen. Interacted hymen, as Amy (2008, 112) says, does not mean caused by sexual intercourse. It can be caused by doing other activities. Cook and Dicksen (2009, 266) mention sports, using of tampon, surgical procedures as examples of the activities that can intact hymen. Thus, interacted hymen as assumed as sexual intercourse indicator and the only cause is not valid. Moreover, the aim of looking virginity status as an indicator in police officers’ requirements does not make sense.
National Police assumes that virginity test can be one of the filter to get the best qualified forces that pass their standards, however there is no causal relation between virginity status and eligibility. It is even no evidence scientifically that shows correlation between being virgin and work ethos. It does not have any impact on someone’s capability and productivity. It is strengthen that virginity test is meaningless.
Practices of virginity test are based on moral hazards. It is showed by the statement of some police officers, including in Medical and Health Centre, that say virginity test is still needed, so that there is no prostitute in police officers: “Do we want to have prostitutes joining the police?”. There are misconceptions here, first, misconception of being not virgin means she is a prostitute and being a prostitute (or not virgin) is not eligible to be a police officer. Second, there is no relevance about being virgin and productive, nor an indicator as better person. Hence, virginity test has violates human’s integrity, it even contradicts to one of the aim of virginity test that was said based on moral hazard. Those surely show that virginity tests are discriminatory for women not to mention is only for women because men do not experience any virginity test. Some also argue that there is no way to test the virginity of men, it is unseen.
The practice itself has been inhumane. The press release convinces this part by using female applicants’ experiences and telling their stories when doing virginity test. It is reconfirmed by using a lot of negative terms in this press release, counted 53 times in 28 different word, as can be seen in Figure 2 by using word count in content analysis. Most of them come from personal experience of female applicants.
It gets worsen when there is a plan to increase the number of female applicants for police force in the same year. It means there are a lot of more potential discriminated women that caused by virginity test in police recruitment. It should get more attention since there was a recruitment that has not known publicly. The recruitment needs to be monitored, hence there wont be any female applicants who experience discriminatory practice during the procedure. 

Figure 2


Women Have No Power
Even virginity test obviously effects women’s life experience in negative way in a long period of time, female applicants fell that they have no power to object the practice. If they object the virginity test, they should resign in their request, hence the police recruitment would not have any responsibility because resignations are based on applicants’ willingness. If so, they also have to lose the opportunity to enter police force, though they have involved in long procedure before virginity test. Therefore, they do not want previous and long application processes that had been done are pointless. They have no power to fight to higher level, even it is a discriminatory practice for themselves, even worse, parliament has legitimized the virginity test. It is weaken female applicant’s position.
Virginity tests in Indonesia’s National Police have been happening at least five decades, thus it can be said as social reproduction. In a petition from civil society to abolish virginity test, it is said that the practice has been going on since 1948 (Harsono, 2015). There might be stronger motivation since it has been applied for decades. There might be an important motivation for women to be police officer since they seem pretty eager to be in police force. In Indonesian National Police, women are minority group. When they become police officers, they might get dignity and being recognized. It is about women’s existence in public space and will affect their bargaining power in public space. However, sacrifice their body to get existence should not be the way out. It might be one of the impacts of unequal society. Women must have existence without sacrifice anything.
In a broaden perspective, it means women has no power to control their own body. Virginity tests practices seem to legitimate the power over women by the state since Indonesia’s National Police is a part of the government. Women are separated to their body since government can make regulation that control women’s body. MacKinnon (1983, 11-12) emphasizes that by saying state is institutionalized male power through law since patriarchal culture is dominant in society. However, at the same time, women are also expected to keep their sacred body (virginity). Virginity test intervene the social construction as well by coercing to put stranger’s finger into women’s vagina (two fingers test) that is private and sacred socialized.

HRW seems successful raising the discourse of women’s rights into human rights in terms of virginity test on Indonesia’s National Police recruitment. As an international organization, they can raise the international and national pressure to Indonesian government and fruit the statement of changing the virginity tests’ regulation. To raise the practice into universal discourse, they use same vocabulary to correlate the constitution of human rights’ violation and frequently use the word “right” side by side with “human” and “women”. Not only that, HRW also correlate the violation of the practice to other international law, for instance ICCPR, CEDAW and Convention Against Torture. To be more convincing, they reveal female applicants’ stories by showing their bad experience and mostly relate to negative meanings. Beside that, the important things in this press release is also they expelled the responsible actor of this practices while most of the times it is hidden or at least mention implicitly or indirectly. Thus, the aim of this press release is clear enough to point Indonesian government to take step regarding abolish virginity test.
At the same time, virginity test also convey women’s position as subordinate. They are pictured as gender which has no power to their own body. Government seems have authority to control over women’s body and women have no enough power to object the situation. However, that conditioned is acknowledged by women and they have different strategies to cope with that situation. For instance, being the speakers for this research is one of their strategies because the consequence to themselves are less dangerous. They object the practice without sacrifice their position in police force. Meanwhile, the virginity test also can be seen as social reproduction of women’s subordination and legitimized by the regulation. The law or regulation becomes a threat for women’s protection instead of give protection to every citizen.
To end the conclusion, limitation of this essay needs to be said. Need to note that the interview of doing the research is using Indonesian language, however it translated to English due to spreading the result internationally through press release. It could reduce the real meaning. Regarding to the methods using, content analysis could be more explored and can be the main approach of this essay as well.

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