Aids [sic] experts have called for a mass circumcision programme in South Africa, condemning a “deafening silence” from policy makers since studies revealed it sharply cut infection rates.
“I am surprised there is no action on male circumcision. Where are the male activists? Studies show a 60 percent reduction (in risk) but there is silence,” Glenda Gray, who will oversee the first HIV vaccine trials run in the country, told a panel discussing prevention research.
She probably means that male activists should be calling for government funding of mass circumcision so they can be “protected” from HIV. I’m going to read the other meaning in her statement. Where are the male activists? Right here, demanding that males be left to decide for themselves how much of their healthy genitals they’d like to keep.
Living in a country where the epidemic isn’t as wide-spread and pervasive, it’s easy for me to say that. But even in a country like South Africa, HIV is still transmitted through specific, identifiable actions. There are additional issues involved in applying solutions to prevent the spread of HIV, including, but not limited to, ethics, individual rights, and cost-benefit disparities in prevention methods. These must be included in the discussion, whether or not they come from male activists.
There is also the reality that too many women in African nations don’t have a say in protecting themselves during sex. That does not justify the forced circumcision of infants. It is wrong to attempt to protect one innocent group (adult women) by violating the rights and bodies of another innocent group (infant males).
Fight HIV, yes, but do so ethically. Any circumcision that involves an individual who can’t and/or doesn’t consent is unethical, immoral, and unworthy of support.