Do you want to want to pay for another man’s circumcision? Too bad:
Top on the Ministry of Health’s five-year strategy is the free circumcision, to be made available in all public health centres.
Sh960 million from the US government has been injected into the project to buy surgical materials, mobilise communities and provide counselling. With a budget of Sh2,000 for each volunteer, the campaign targets 500,000 uncircumcised men in Kenya.
I’m not naive enough to think that men means males who’ve reached an age of consent. But I’ll assume that’s what it means for this story. Given that 500,000 is a very large sample, how many men do you think we’ll pay to develop this attitude?
The Kenyan government launched a campaign to promote male circumcision in 2008, but it has not yet reached most parts of the country. In the northwestern district of Turkana, where the practice is not part of the culture and few have even heard of it, IRIN/PlusNews spoke to Isaac Ikone, 22.
“The government has not yet come here to talk about male circumcision, but I have heard about it from friends. They say it prevents HIV and sexually transmitted diseases. If that’s true, I would definitely go for it so I can remain healthy.
“A while ago a friend and I found out we had the same sexually transmitted disease, and when I began to wonder how that happened, he told me he had slept with a girl I had also slept with in town. He is the one who told me that if we were circumcised, we would not have got sick.
“My girlfriend is still in secondary school and when she is not around I try to abstain from sex, but I’m not always successful. I don’t like condoms; if there is a better way to prevent HIV so that I can enjoy sex skin-to-skin, I will do it.
Yes, it’s anecdotal. It’s also where we end up when we push circumcision as a panacea for genital diseases. Responsible behavior gets lost. And I’m being forced to pay for this, which will ultimately further entrench a human rights violation when it leads to more infant circumcisions.
As it will, because the push for infant circumcision is purposeful. This is from Uganda, but the sentiment is universal:
Most men and women in Uganda support medical male circumcision as a way of lowering HIV risk, and up to 62 percent of uncircumcised men would consider being circumcised, a new study has found.
The study, conducted by Uganda’s Makerere University and Family Health International, which works to promote reproductive health, with funding from the United States Agency for International Development, surveyed 1,675 men and women in four districts; the results were released in the capital, Kampala, in December 2008.
Support for circumcising sons was even greater: almost 100 percent of circumcised men supported the circumcision of their male children, while 59 percent to 77 percent of uncircumcised men were in favour of having their sons circumcised, and between 49 percent and 95 percent of women wanted the procedure performed on their male children. [emphasis added]
I don’t think this is a conspiracy. Those public health officials who ignore what the individuals want probably have good intentions. They’re pursuing it because they know it works. Our government is happily joining the ride.
And what about those children who will be circumcised as a result?
“The purpose of the research was to find out what is on the ground regarding the capacity to conduct medical male circumcision, and its acceptability among the public,” said Dr Alex Opio, assistant commissioner for national disease control. “It was also done to pave the way for developing a policy, because all policies need evidence.”
An opinion poll somehow qualifies as evidence. What the individual wants is irrelevant, subjugated to the opinion of his parents. This is what it looks like to start with an outcome and create the necessary support.