Mother of Indonesian athlete alleges daughter forcibly sent home during SEA Games training because she was ‘no longer a virgin,’ Sports Ministry refutes rumors

SEA Games 2019 held from Nov 30 to Dec 11 in the Philippines. Photo: SEA Games 2019
SEA Games 2019 held from Nov 30 to Dec 11 in the Philippines. Photo: SEA Games 2019

A female Indonesian athlete who was scheduled to compete in the 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in the Philippines was allegedly sent home due to accusations that she is not a virgin. 

The 17-year-old artistic gymnastics athlete, Shalfa Avrila Siani, was participating in a bootcamp to prepare for the upcoming SEA Games, when, in mid-November, she was expelled and forced to return home by her coach, who allegedly cited her not being a virgin as the reason.  

Shalfa’s mother, Ayu Kurniawati, said the coach abruptly announced the decision without issuing an official letter, as reported by iNews

Ayu reportedly took her daughter for a medical examination afterwards, and said the allegation was false as the doctor confirmed that Shalfa’s hymen was still intact. (Editor’s note: an intact hymen is not necessarily a sign of virginity and not all women bleed from their vagina the first time they have sex.) 

“Her coach cast her aside just like that, without any letter, without any prior notice, just telling her to go home,” Ayu was quoted as saying yesterday. 

“[They said] the reason is because my daughter often came back late at night and that she’s no longer a virgin. They said her hymen was torn as if she was raped.”

Ayu added that Shalfa was shocked and devastated after what transpired, and has since refused to go to school. 

Imam Muklas, Shalfa’s family legal representative, said they have written to the President and the Youth and Sports Minister, contesting the outcome of the first medical examination that alleged Shalfa as having lost her virginity, according to a report from state news agency Antara.

News of Shalfa’s alleged expulsion due to her virginity status has spread like wildfire in the country, prompting an official response from the Youth and Sports Ministry. 

An official from the ministry said today that they have been in touch with the Indonesian Gymnastics Association (Persani) regarding the issue, and confirmed that Shalfa had not been forcibly sent home by her coach, nor was the issue of her expulsion related to her virginity. 

“The truth, according to Pak Indra [the trainer in East Java], was that the athlete had been sent home because she lacked discipline and focus, thus resulting in her declining performance, so they decided not to include her for SEA Games,” Gatot S. Dewa Broto, a secretary at the ministry, said in a statement. 

Gatot reaffirmed that the ministry is looking into the issue, and will take firm action should they find truth in the allegations of a virginity check against Shalfa. 

“That’s because, aside from this being a matter of privacy and dignity, it has nothing to do with her [athletic] achievements,” Gatot said.

 

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