Friday, July 15, 2011

Soka Uncobe "Official Launch" - Come Again?

Right. So Swazi circumcision/HIV enthusiasts keep babbling on about Soka Uncobe, the American government's vicarious efforts to circumcise an entire nation thus creating a miniature version of America itself (in terms of 80% circumcision prevalence). The pretext for mutilating 80% of Swaziland's males is, of course, the so-called prevention of HIV, even though Swaziland was one of the African nations where HIV was more prevalent among the circumcised population.

As Table 14.10 shows, the relationship between HIV prevalence and circumcision status is not in the expected direction. Circumcised men have a slightly higher HIV infection rate than men who are not circumcised (22 percent compared with 20 percent). (p. 256)

Not to mention the fact that having a 90% prevalence of circumcised males never prevented HIV transmission in America. Not to mention that circumcision never prevented HIV anywhere else. Not to mention recent reports that the circumcision/HIV message is actually confusing the people of Africa, agravating the situation.

Despite all of the Swazi government's efforts to blow the Soka Uncobe campaign out of proportion, judging by recent reports, it seems the campaign is not having the intended effect of getting all the men to line up to be mutilated, and officials don't seem to know what else to do. So unsuccessful are efforts to circumcised everybody that even laws are being discussed to make circumcision compulsory. In a recent report by the Swazi Observer (Why don't they allow any comments by the way? Maybe they've been ordered to silence the voice of criticizm?), it looks like Soka Uncobe officials have recruited an entire football team to get circumcised and endorse the Soka Uncobe campaign. I'm wondering how much PEPFAR money was used to convince these men to submit to the cut, and how many men will need more money to pay for anti-retrovirals when they get HIV.

And now, according to the Swazi Observer, the Soka Uncobe campaign is going to undergo its "official launch." (Because it wasn't "officially launched" before?)

Here's my critique of the report:

"THE Soka Uncobe national male circumcision campaign could prevent 90 000 new HIV infections in the next decade, and save the country over E4 billion.

This was revealed by American Ambassador to Swaziland, Earl Irving during a Ministry of Health Soka Uncobe press briefing at the Mbabane Government Hospital yesterday. It was attended by Minister of Health Benedict Xaba, PS Steven Shongwe and health officials along with US Embassy staff."

Irving isn't "revealing" anything new. Circumcision/HIV enthusiasts have been touting circumcision as a "cost-effective" HIV prevention method since last decade. The 90,000  figure is based on the dubious premise that circumcision actually prevents HIV transmission 60% as per the three famous African trials. Real world data demonstrates, however, that circumcision fails to prevent HIV in the real world, not to mention the very US.

"The campaign launch by His Majesty King Mswati III will be held at Mankayane, while the roll out began in February."
Roll out first. Campaign launch AFTERwards. That should always be the order of things I'm sure.
It looks to me like just another publicity stunt. The first attempts didn't work, and it doesn't sound like they have too much faith in the football team. Perhaps getting royal endorsement might cause Swazi men to relinquish their bodies for mutilation?
"Ambassador Irving said if Swaziland would be able to meet the circumcision goals, it would take a giant step towards meeting the United Nations declaration of zero new HIV infections by 2020."
Ambassador Irving is speaking on behalf a nation who has been on a quest to legitimize the forced genital cutting of children for at least a century. There is no doubt in my mind that Irving is himself circumcised and more than happy to tout a party line that legitimizes his own circumcision status, and if he is married with children, the circumcision status of his own sons. Ambassador Irving, and the nation he represents, all have a glaringly obvious conflict of interest; the competing interests are HIV prevention, and the justification of male circumcision, especially male infant circumcision back home.
"'Since 2006, with funding from PEPFAR and others, Swaziland has been scaling up male circumcision as part of the National Strategic Framework on HIV/AIDS. The goal is to reach 80% of 15-49 year-old males with voluntary medical male circumcision...'"
If compulsory circumcision is made law, circumcision will be anything but voluntary. And the forced circumcision of minors is NOT voluntary, and a violation of basic human rights. As an American citizen, I am absolutely disgusted that the abuse of children, and the coersion of African men into having their bodies mutilated under the pretext of HIV prevention is what my tax dollars are being used for.
"'... As we prepare to have His Majesty the King officially launch the Soka Uncobe male circumcision campaign, we know that it could not come at a more opportune time."'
Officially launch? More like, officially ENDORSE. The campaign has been "launched" since February. Was this "launch" in the campaign's schedule? Or was it thrown in at the last minute because the campaign is not having its intended effect?
"...Soka Uncobe is an innovative, Cabinet- approved programme to achieve one of the major goals of the National Strategic framework on HIV/AIDS."
Circumcision, if we are to believe circumcision enthusiasts, has been around for at least two millenia, and, in the United States, for just over a century. It is anything but "innovative," and judging from real world data, nowhere near effective at preventing HIV/AIDS.

"'...From a national perspective investing in male circumcision could avert 90 000 new HIV infections. This fact alone could save over E4 billion in the next decade,' said Irving."
Notice the half-concealed qualification.

From a national perspective, HIV was found to be more prevalent among the circumcised. (See 2nd paragraph above). From a national perspective, circumcision is a waste of money and a disservice to the people, as it is sending conflicting messages.
"He said the American government supported the initiative because Swazis including the King had shown great interest in improving the local health system."

The American government "supports" the initiative because they have an interest in seeing as many men and children circumcised as possible. Circumcision is a dying trend, and it is ever being challenged at home. More than ever, the American medical industry needs to secure acquiescence of circumcision as a "prophilactic measure" against something. They've been trying to do this for over a century. This whole publicity stunt is about vindicating circumcision, particularly infant circumcision. It has ALWAYS been about that. It has absolutely nothing to do with HIV prevention. It is a shame and a disgrace that our country is pushing on Africans a "prevention measure" that never worked in our own country.

There is not a doubt in my mind that Swazis, including the king, have been told that the price for "humanitarian aid" is their endorsement of circumcision. The American circumcision lobby has hijacked PEPFAR and other humanitarian organizations, and has made it so that anybody that wants aid must agree to endorse "mass circumcision campaigns." Hence PEPFAR beneficiaries sing the praises of circumcision. Hence they show "interest." Hence "circumcision is so successful that African goverments are taking it up as a tool." Hence, circumcision has "benefits," hence doctors can keep reaping profit from performing it on non-consenting children at home. THIS is what it has always been about. The pseudo-scientific vindication of forced male genital mutilation at the expense of the poor people of Africa.
"Minister Xaba urged the public to attend the launch since it would be graced by His Majesty the King, apart from being a good initiative worth supporting."

I find it almost laughable how "being a good initiative worth supporting" is an afterthought. It is clear Xaba hopes that the king's endorsement will finally get the Soka Uncobe campaign to perk.

"'In light of the current financial challenges faced by the country, we are optimistic that the country will save millions through investing on male circumcision, hence we would urge the public to support the ministry of health by attending the launch,” said Xaba."

Translation; if men don't start lining up to be circumcised, we could lose PEPFAR aid, losing the country millions. We want the public to attend the launch so that they are ordered directly by the king to submit and be conquered by Soka Uncobe, since the campaign is such a failure.

I feel so sorry for the men of Swaziland. To be coerced on the street by strangers. To have their masculinity challenged. To be threatened with making circumcision legally compulsory. To have their sports interests exploited. And now, to be ordered by their own king.

Has anybody stopped to think, maybe perhaps the men of Swaziland DON'T WANT to be circumcised?

Has anybody stopped to think Swazi men think this idea of mass coerced circumcision is crazy?

Has anybody stopped to think the people of Swaziland want an ALTERNATIVE?

Circumcision is NOTHING like a vaccine. A vaccine strengthens the immune system against microbes that cause disease. Circumcision is cutting part of a person's penis off. It is an intentional and deliberate wound. When HIV invades the body, it does not matter whether a person is circumcised or not.

WHY are circumcision enthusiasts hell-bent on stuffing circumcision down these people's throats?

Look up "circumcision" on PubMed. Scientists are no longer looking into how exactly circumcision prevents HIV anymore. That doesn't matter. The bulk of recent circumcision "study" focuses on, get this, how they can effectively get people to accept circumcision. What's the most effective way to brainwash people. What's the most effective way to get people to submit themselves and their children to circumcision.

Did you know that no scientist can tell you how exactly circumcision prevents HIV? Did you know that outside of the famed trials, the "reduced risk of HIV transmission by 60%" fails to manifest itself? Did you know that circumcision has failed to prevent HIV in the US, of all places?

Of all the research that people could be working on, WHY is so much money being poured into circumcision???

Progress is defined by the replacement of the old with the new and better. Science is always seeking to replace itself; to make itself obsolete. Instead of seeking for alternatives to circumcision, instead of seeking ways to avoid surgical intervention, WHY are "studies" focusing on preserving, even necessitating a blood ritual that has been around for at least two millenia? "Researching" ways to necessitate surgery, and then "researching" ways on how to impose it on the most people as possible, even going as far as imposing it on healthy, non-consenting children, has got to be the most ass-backwards logic I've ever heard of.

The article continues...

"'More than 28 000 have already been circumcised since inception of the campaign which are signs that we will be able to meet the 152 000 target set for the year 2011,' said Xaba."

This sounds like 1984 newspeak.

Here's what I've managed to prevent from being tossed down the memory hole:

"The ambitious, US-funded campaign hopes to reach one in eight Swazi men, but has had disappointing results so far.

The clinic performing Mfanzile’s procedure is geared to see 80 patients a day. At best 15 trickle in - fewer than even before the campaign began in February.

Adverts urging men to “circumcise and conquer” are everywhere but organisers now admit they may not reach their targets as quickly as hoped."

"Most of the time in Swaziland, men are the decision makers. Men must be in the forefront of this battle,” said Health Minister Benedict Xaba. “It takes time for a Swazi person to accept something new; to accept change."

Let's see, it is already the middle of July, and 28,000 men have been circumcised. The goal is 152,000, and they're not even past their half-way point. But suddenly these are signs that the target will be met? I'm guessing Xaba is counting on the king's endorsement to drive the men to the circumcision clinics in throngs.

I'm wondering if PEPFAR and Swazi officials have thought about this possibility.

What if their Soka Uncobe campaign fails to circumcise 152,000 men?

What if in the end, the men of Swaziland stand up and tell their king they will not submit themselves or their children to infant genital mutilation?

What if the men told Swazi officials "we WILL not go through with this?"

What then?

What's plan B?

Well they start thinking about HIV campaigns WITHOUT circumcision THEN?

In America, circumcision is a dying trend. More and more parents are leaving their children intact, despite all of the purported "medical benefits." According to the CDC, the rate of infant circumcision is down to 33% or so, with differing rates across the country. In California, the rate is as low as 22%. This means that, circumcision is clearly being abandoned in favor of other less invasive, more effective means of disease prevention.

So what if the people of Swaziland make it clear to their government that they will not take up circumcision?

What will PEPFAR etc. do then?

Think it possible.

African people might actually get smart enough to figure it all out.

Message to the Men of Africa
To any Swazi men or other men being coerced to undergo circumcision by local campaigns in Africa, I've got something to tell to you; circumcision doesn't prevent anything. Never has, never will. I'm afraid your governments have come to depend on sick benefactors who care about nothing more than mutilating your bodies and the bodies of your children for aid. You're at the mercy of corrupt government leaders who have sold your foreskins for so-called "humanitarian aid." You lose part of your genitals and they line their pockets. And you're still no better protected.

I'm here to tell you, you don't have to get circumcised to prevent HIV. Circumcision does not, cannot prevent you from getting sexually transmitted HIV. Only condoms provide true protection. When nurses and doctors ask you if you've circumcised yourself or your children, tell them it's none of their business. Tell them that you're educated enough to learn how to take a shower. Tell them that you are faithful to your wife. Tell them you want an alternative.Tell them you want an HIV prevention method that does not require cutting off part of your genitals and the genitals of their children. Tell them thanks, but no thanks. Demand the respect and dignity you deserve. You are human beings, not animals.

Do you have a Facebook account? Would you like to know what Soka Uncobe isn't telling you? Do you want to avoid AIDS but don't want to get circumcised? Find us on Facebook! Log on and click on the following link:

You Can Conquer Without Circumcision: Say NO to "Soka Uncobe"

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