When it first came out, there was much ado about Soka Uncobe, a US backed initiative to mutilate 80% of the men and male children in Swaziland in the name of so-called "HIV prevention." (Nevermind the fact that HIV was more prevalent amongst the circumcised population there.)
The initiative had a bumpy start, as the message was confusing people, sending the message that getting circumcised meant not having to wear condoms and having sex with multiple partners. The Ministry of Health was left defending its obviously flawed campaign.
In recent bulletins, the Soka Uncobe campaign was reported to be having disappointing results. In a more recent one from the Swazi Observer, it was reported that a law to make circumcision for men compulsory was on the table.
And now, it looks like their latest tactic is to try and use celebrity endorsement by getting an entire team of soccer players to get circumcised and using this to push circumcision on influential youth. Are Soka Uncobe directors getting a bit desperate? Has PEPFAR twisted their arm and threatened to cut AIDS funds unless they see results?
"NOT only are they focused in football matters but newly promoted elite league outfit Tambankulu Callies also ‘play it safe’."
Once again, Soka Uncobe is going to risk sending a mixed message. What does "play it safe" mean? That once you're circumcised you're "safe" and don't have to wear condoms? We keep saying it, and we'll keep saying it; promoting circumcision, even if the latest "studies" were accurate, is a bad idea because it causes confusion where there needn't be. Promoting circumcision is already proving to be disastrous, resulting in confused citizens and an increased HIV rate.
"Interviewed on the developments, the team’s PRO Senzo Shabangu said they decided it was a good idea to have the team educated on how to behave themselves, especially now that they had been promoted to the elite league.
'They have been educating us on how this procedure can be of benefit to us men when it comes to health issues so we took the decision to go for it. After our nurse at the Clinic brought up this issue we decided to take up the challenge,' he said."
You really need to cut off part of somebody's penis to "educate" him? I wonder what exactly is passing as "education." I'm afraid these poor men are being hornswoggled. Are they going to interview the men that get erection problems and manage to contract HIV despite their circumcisions?
"Shabangu added that this was also meant to protect the boys just in case they were overwhelmed by fame."
You have GOT to be kidding me! I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry. They seriously think this is going to make any difference! Because circumcision was already "reducing HIV" in Swaziland, right? As it has in other African countries and other countries of the world? On the other hand, this may be the key to Soka Uncobe's undoing; when the footballers start getting AIDS and giving it to their partners, I'd like to see Soka Uncobe and PEPFAR promoting the team then.
"When sought for comment on the matter, PSI’s Communications Officer Bongiwe Zwane said they were very happy with the initiative taken by the team.
"Football players are very influential in their communities so in this way more youngsters will want to be part of this procedure.
We would encourage other teams to follow suit so that we have a healthy nation,” he said."
Yes, we can see where PSI's hearts lie; they're more concerned about getting everybody circumcised than they are about actual HIV prevention. I'm wondering how long will this continue until people finally realize circumcision is a waste of money that doesn't work. It is possible to have a healthy nation WITHOUT circumcision.
How many infected men and women until we realize the money could have been better spent?
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.
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You Can Conquer Without Circumcision: Say NO to "Soka Uncobe"