Sunday, September 25, 2016

UNITED NATIONS: Genital cutting called "child abuse" - but only of girls

All good, but why specify "female"?

BBC News
July 15, 2016

FGM is child abuse, says UN Population Fund chief

The head of the United Nations Population Fund has, for the first time, described female genital mutilation as "child abuse".

Dr Babatunde Osotimehin told the BBC that the custom was a human rights abuse and needed to end immediately.

More than 200 million women and girls around the world have undergone the procedure, where parts of the female genitals are removed.

The UN estimates a further three million are at risk of being mutilated.

Dr Osotimehin said: "There is absolutely no reason to cut anybody, and it seemed to us that it is part of the gender imbalance that has always existed in these communities which are based on patriarchy. I think it's child abuse."

The organisation had previously referred to the practice as a human rights violation, but has stopped short of calling it child abuse.

FGM is practiced mainly in parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

It involves the partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

Some countries in Africa are working to change traditional perceptions of FGM.

At the moment about one in five women in Kenya has been cut.

But the UN children's charity, Unicef, says Kenya could eradicate the practice in the next 15 years.
However, deeply entrenched traditions in some communities in this region, and across the world, make this a major challenge.

UGANDA, KENYA: ARVs and education send HIV down, genital cutting gets credit

Deutche Welle
July 15, 2016

Africa's progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS

by Hilke Fischer
The South African city of Durban is the venue for the 2016 World Aids Conference. Sub-Saharan Africa will feature prominently on the agenda, a region where the infection rate has decreased by over 40 percent since 2000.

Which strategies are most effective in the battle against HIV/AIDS? DW looks at how four African countries are responding to the challenge.
Kenya: compulsory HIV/AIDS education
Fewer than six percent of Kenyans live with HIV/AIDS. That's about 1.5 million people. The number of new infections also fell significantly in recent years. In 2005, 28.3 percent of infected mothers transmitted the virus to their children. Five years later, that figure had gone down to 8.5 percent.
Meanwhile, more than 90 percent of all pregnant Kenyan women go for AIDS tests. In 2000, there were only three health facilities where Kenyans could consult medical practitioners and get tested for HIV. In 2010, the number of health facilities offering HIV consultations had increased to more than 4,000.

The main reason for the reduction in the HIV/AIDS prevalence in Kenya is the supply of ARVs. In 2003, only 6,000 people had access to the medication. Ten years later, that figure increased to more than 600,000.

The Kenyan government also regards voluntary male circumcision as a weapon in the fight against AIDS. This reduces the risk of infection among men by about 40 percent, according to studies. Since 2003, HIV/AIDS education has been a compulsory element in school curriculums. About 70 percent of the cost in fighting HIV/AIDS in Kenya is footed by external donors.

[Could it be that the education and the ARVs are entirely responsible for the reduction?]
Uganda: 'Abstinence, faithfulness and condoms'
In Uganda, the AIDS epidemic reached its peak in the 1990s. Approximately 18 percent of the population was infected with the virus. The Ugandan government and international aid agencies launched ambitious and expensive educational programs with the slogan "Abstinence, faithfulness and condoms."

The campaign was a success. In 2000, only five percent of the population was HIV-positive. But, in the meantime, a contrary trend is emerging. The number of new infections in Uganda is rising again for the first time in ten years. The HIV prevalence rate in the country is now about seven percent of the population.

Surprisingly, a major reason for this is the widespread usage of ARVs and the circumcision of men. Many Ugandans believe that the ARV therapy can cure the disease completely and that male circumcision rules out any risk of infection - as a result, more people are abandoning the use of condoms.
[This is NOT surprising - in fact we predicted it, years ago..]

WINDHOEK, NAMIBIA: Men are resisting genital cutting

Namibian men aren't buying it...
July 2, 2016

Namibia’s male circumcision initiative to prevent HIV faces headwind

WINDHOEK (Xinhua) -- Circumcised and ready for action?

These four words that are part of a radio advertisement currently gracing the airwaves have aroused mixed feelings among Namibians.

The advertisement is being run by the health ministry as part of a campaign to educate and encourage men to opt for voluntary medical male circumcision.

Namibia aims to circumcise 330, 000 men by 2025 but since the program was officially launched in 2014, just above 30, 000 have taken up the offer.

Most Namibian men, like Windhoek security guards Simeon Hafeni and Gottlieb Kalandu, are refusing to let go of their foreskins.

Hafeni, who is from the northern regions of the country where circumcision is not compulsory under tribal beliefs, says he does not see any reason for him to be cut.

What if I get the cut now, and then tomorrow another disease that needs the foreskin comes by?” he asks.

His workmate, Kalandu quips: “God was not a fool to create men with a foreskin.
[These are not the best reasons to stay intact. The best reasons are that the foreskin is valuable, and that the protection offered, even if true, is insufficient to substitute cutting for the vastly more protective condoms.]
These two could symbolize the difficulty the health ministry’s campaign faces even after rolling out the program as far back as 2009 when the World Health Organization and the United Nations AIDS Organization (UNAIDS) recommended circumcision as one of an HIV preventative measure.

Namibia went on to train more than 260 health care workers to provide deal with circumcision, while 33 district hospitals were made available for the program.

A national strategic plan for 2010/11-2015/16 drawn up and revised in 2013 lists six core program to prevent and control the spread of HIV in the country including circumcision.

The strategic plan states that there is need to reach out to HIV negative adult men and initiate services for adolescents.

Although health ministry spokesperson Ester Paulus said that circumcision is a “low-cost medical intervention”, the strategic plan shows that more than 200 million Namibian dollars (13 million U.S. dollars) was set aside for the first three years.

“Male circumcision is a one-time, low cost medical intervention, which has been recommended by the WHO as part of a comprehensive package of HIV prevention.”

The country also carried out a pilot project in Aug. 2009 in capital Windhoek and at Oshakati, in the north of the country about 700 kilometers from Windhoek.

Realizing that fewer men were volunteering, the health ministry has been on an aggressive campaign. Apart from the advertisements, the health minister, Bernard Haufiku, has also been vocal about the need for men to get the cut.

When the advertisements were launched in May, Haufiku said in high HIV prevalence countries like Namibia, circumcision will at least prevent one in five infections as it reduces the risk of contracting HIV by 60 percent. [This is a dangerously false way of applying this already-misleading statistic.]

Hafeni and Kalandu say they have heard the advertisements, which they think are humorous.
“But radio is radio. I don’t believe everything I hear on radio,” Kalandu says.