Saturday, July 9, 2011

The counselling or the free circumcision?

After reading this article at, I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry. "South Africa: Circumcision Demand Shoots Up," it says, but the title is rather misleading. The author might have you believe that circumcision demand has actually "shot up," until s/he reveals to you that it's circumcision season, in South Africa. Every year, scores of men die at "circumcision schools," and countless others end up losing their penises to gangrene. But that's not any reason why boys might want to take advantage of a free circumcision in a clinical setting. Oh no, not at all.

"In just one week following the start of the winter school holidays over 1000 boys queued up to get circumcised..."

Now let's ask the author how many of these boys would have had to go to a circumcision school anyway.

The rest of the article is basically sensationalism to embellish the fact that an expected surge in clinical circumcisions done at circumcision/HIV clinics is happening. Some of what comes out of these boys' mouths when asked why they are there may give you a pause, however:

Why did you want to circumcise, I asked Buhle.

"To avoid the diseases because in South Africa there are many diseases by having sex with no condom. So, it protects you from the diseases because if you are circumcised, it's 60% less diseases", he replied.

Uh... yeah...

Did you have to talk to your parents about circumcising?

"Yes, it's them who told me that I have to come circumcise", he said.

So it sounds like, this child is not here out of his own volition...

Then, he gushed about the quality of counselling he got at the centre.

"Oh, counselling! It's the counseling that made me to be here today because I wasn't going to be here because I was scared. The counselling is very good because it's talking to you to know how to know yourself, know your status they even test you here high blood, sugar. They were telling us about condoms, how to use them. Condoms are important because if you are circumcised there is 60% less (chances of getting HIV), but if you use condoms that 40% is going to be on that means 100% safer for you".

Something's in the water. In just the previous breath he was talking about sex with no condoms, and the fact that he is here because of his parents. But now it's the counselling. Oh yes, it's the counselling that made him be here today! And the quality of the counseling shows. Because condoms don't provide 100% protection unless their wearers are circumcised...

"Not only has the clinic increased the number of circumcised boys. It has also increased the number of boys who take up HIV counselling and testing. And so has the Bophelo Pele centre in Orange Farm. Over 80% of the 1084 boys who were circumcised at both centres have accepted the HIV test."

Yes, because HIV counseling and testing is simply not possible unless the recipient is circumcised. Maybe they should start providing clinical female circumcision. That way they could counsel the women as WELL as the men. I mean, it's how it works, right?

"Scientific research shows that circumcised men have a 60% less risk of infection."

Actually, no, no it doesn't. The select data "researchers" with an agenda present "shows" a 60% decrease, and this is attributed to circumcision. To be sure, "studies" were seeking to attribute a reduction in HIV transmission to circumcision since about 1986. The decrease found in the latest "studies" doesn't manifest itself outside of the carefully constructed "research." The "researchers" have yet to produce a working hypothesis for their studies. There is not a shred of scientific evidence that demonstrably proves circumcision prevents anything. This doctor is either keeping this trade secret to himself, or he doesn't know.

"Combined with the use of condoms, the protectiveness is increased."

Actually, no, circumcised or not, condoms provide the exact same protection. You don't need to be circumcised to wear a condom.

In America, 80% of the male population is circumcised, AND condoms are easily available. Despite this fact, HIV transmission rates, and the transmission rates of other STDs, are higher in America, than in Europe, where circumcision is rare. Somehow, this is going to work differently in Africa.

If by "counselling" they mean corroborating with boys and men that were seeking to get circumcised anyway, these "doctors" are doing an excellent job.

This article is misleading. It says there is an "increase in circumcision demand," where there is actually none. Are circumcision/HIV advocates trying to take credit for circumcisions that would have taken place anyway? Do you SERIOUSLY have to circumcise a man or child in order to test him and counsel him in the use of condoms? Like, is his brain simply not able to process this information until he's been circumcised? Does circumcision somehow make his brain more receptive? I wouldn't be surprised to see a scientific "study" that "shows" this in the near future.


  1. There's a book called The Forest People, written by Colin Turnbull, an anthropologist who lived among the Bambuti people in Central Africa (One of the tribes of people sometimes called "Pygmies."). I remember he wrote pretty extensively about a circumcision ceremony. It was horrifying. The circumciser, who was not a Bambuti, was drunk and used unsanitary equipment in unsanitary conditions. I thought of that when I read your first paragraph. Yes, some facts are definitely getting spun in that article.

  2. Good points Joseph, thanks for analyzing these propaganda stories of circumcision in Africa.

  3. I know of these "Pygmies..." If I'm not mistaken they've got some beautiful vocal music...

    It angers me how FGM is so sensationalized, and we hear of all these horrific ceremonies for girls in Africa. But you'll never hear about this for African boys and men.

    Or, when you do, there's always some sort of apologetic remark like "but it helps prevent HIV so..." Or "this is why they should be opting for medical circumcision."

    "Medical circumcision" exists for girls and women too. In the west, "labiaplasties" and "clitoral unroofing" is a growing business. "Studies show" that these surgeries "increase sexual satisfaction for both the woman and her partner." But let's not talk about "medical circumcision" for girls.

  4. Here is a small portion of a recent article from Africa suggesting the reasons for rampant HIV transmission in Namibia:

    "Among the main drivers of the epidemic in Namibia are
    multiple concurrent partnerships, low levels of male circumcision, alcohol abuse and low and inconsistent condom use."