Mass Circumcision Campaigns in Sub-Saharan Africa:A Disaster in Disguise?

AuthorAshley N. Arrington - Book Review
PositionCook Collection Attorneys, PLC
Pages779-797
e Indonesian Journal of International & Comparative Law
ISSN: 2338-7602; E-ISSN: 2338-770X
http://www.ijil.org
© 2016 e Institute for Migrant Rights Press
mass CirCumCision CamPaigns in
suB-saharan afriCa
A D  D
Ashley N. Arrington
Attorney at Law
E-mail: ashley.arrington@aggienetwork.com
e World Health Organization and UNAIDS began endorsing male circum-
cision as an eective strategy for HIV prevention in countries with a high HIV
prevalence and a low male circumcision prevalence in 2007. Four years later,
such organizations, along with a host of U.S. and Western NGOs, went on to
further promote the scale-up of male circumcision for HIV prevention in East-
ern and Southern Africa. In the years since the implementation of the resulting
mass circumcision campaigns, numerous countries, including Botswana, Kenya,
Malawi, Uganda, Zimbabwe, and more, have specically complained that such
campaigns operate to promote increased risky sexual behaviors and thus do not
reduce HIV as claimed. In response to such complaints, this paper will seek to
assess the outcomes of mass circumcision campaigns and to examine whether
such campaigns are an eective and acceptable method of attacking the HIV
pandemic sub-Saharan Africa currently faces. Additionally, through evaluating
HIV-related human rights principles and the state obligations thereunder, this
paper seeks to determine whether the mass circumcision campaigns promoted
by the U.S. and other Western NGOs constitute a violation of human rights.
Keywords: human right to health, international law, women rights, religious freedom,
cultural relativism, reproductive health.
III Indonesian Journal of International & Comparative Law 779-97 (October 2016)
780
Arrington
I. INTRODUCTION
In 2007, the WHO and UNAIDS issued a joint statement endorsing
male circumcision as an eective strategy for HIV prevention in coun-
tries with a high HIV prevalence and a low male circumcision preva-
lence, and in 2011, such organizations, along with a host of others, went
on to release a “Joint Strategic Action Framework to Accelerate the
Scale-Up of Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision for HIV Prevention
in Eastern and Southern Africa,” citing an estimated commitment of
$1.5 billion for the years 2012-2015. Nonetheless, in the years since
the implementation of the resulting mass circumcision campaigns, nu-
merous countries, including Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, Zim-
babwe, and more, have specically (and many times repeatedly) com-
plained that such campaigns eectively operate to promote increased
risky sexual behaviors and thus do not reduce HIV as claimed.
In response to such complaints, this paper will seek to assess the
outcomes of mass circumcision campaigns and to examine whether
such campaigns are an eective and acceptable method of attacking the
HIV pandemic sub-Saharan Africa currently faces. Additionally, this
paper seeks to determine whether the mass circumcision campaigns
promoted by the U.S. and other Western NGOs constitute a violation
of human rights.
To accomplish the aforementioned objectives, this paper will
rst provide a brief history of male circumcision as a method of HIV
prevention. Using a series of recent articles, it will then provide a
synopsis of the current problem with mass circumcision campaigns.
Next, this paper will evaluate the relationship between human rights
and HIV/AIDS, list the international human rights instruments
and documents applicable to HIV/AIDS, and summarize the HIV-
related state obligations applicable to an analysis of mass circumcision
campaigns. Finally, through applying HIV-related human rights
principles and the state obligations thereunder, the paper will analyze
whether and how mass circumcision campaigns violate human rights.

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