The Health Ministry is supporting the move by local administrations ' including Sabang city in Aceh ' to make it a requirement for high school students to record the shape and size of their genitalia for its health status reports.
'The measurement requirement is part of the national school-health improvement program regulated by the Health Ministry in 2010,' the Ministry's director of child health, Jane Supandi, told The Jakarta Post on Friday.
Jane added that under that program, the government, represented by the Health Ministry, planned to educate students about reproductive health and their rights.
The government hopes, through the collection of information on the shape and size of students' genitalia, the scheme would assist in the detection of abnormalities at an early stage, she said.
'However, we have a very limited number of health workers able to examine students one at a time. So, to solve this problem, we are asking students to check their own bodies and write the results on health report forms,' she said.
Jane said that students who measured their own bodies would get information about their right to sexual and reproductive health.
'The measurement results are confidential. Only health workers from the health agency are allowed to read the reports,' she said.
If health workers found any reproductive health abnormalities, they would inform the schools and parents directly to consult on how to tackle the matter, Jane explained.
She questioned the public's criticism of how the reports contained graphics of human genitalia.
'It's scientific and can help children learn about their reproductive health and avoid diseases,' she said.
Seto Mulyadi, a psychologist who is currently the head of the National Commission on Child Protection's ( Komnas Anak ) supervisory board, said that genitalia measurement violated children's privacy.
'I don't think measuring students' genitalia in a school environment is appropriate even though it aims to improve students' awareness of their sexual and reproductive health and rights,' he added.
Seto said it could trigger sexual harassment including molestation, rape and pregnancy before marriage. 'Most children are not able to identify what actions are health checks and what are sexual abuse. That's why genitalia measurement would be better done in community health centers, not in schools.'
Meanwhile, Badriul Hegar Syarif chairman of the Indonesian Pediatricians Association said that the genitalia measurement had been developed and used by international health centers to know children's reproductive health status.
'The method, known as Tanner method, consists of checking the size and shape of human genitalia at the early stage,' he said, adding that each country had its own policy on genitalia measurement.
Hegar added that the genitalia measurement on junior high school students as seen in Sabang, Aceh, was appropriate. He said that junior high school students had the capacity to learn about their reproductive and sexual health rights.
'However, the government should watch its implementation carefully. Students need to be assisted by health workers and to have sufficient information on reproductive health,' he said.
Recently, the Aceh Health Agency shocked the public by giving questionnaires to students of state SMP 1 junior high school, which contained pictures and questions regarding the size and shape of genitalia.
One mother, Nurlina, said that the five-page questionnaire contained images depicting breasts, vaginas and penises and under each of the images were four options ' from small to large ' for a student to circle. ( tam )