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Can Female Circumcision Be The Solution Of AIDS?
Use small problem to solve a large catastrophe
By Farah Barkhad Nour
This is a brief report about an upcoming book, which is written by Farah barkhad Nour who recently graduated from Amoud University in Borama, Somaliland. He earned a bachelor of business administration BBA in the year of 2006. The book will contain well-researched data implemented by the author himself. Although the sensitivity of the questions obliged him to select the sample of the research only from males, he carefully interpreted the outcome of the data.
The calamity of AIDS has grown vastly. It expanded different parts of the world. In every continent and in every country, it killed millions of people. Around the world, it devastated young adults and working ages of countries. Huge number of people died for it, a large number of people is suffering for its dangerous effect and while others lost their relatives. The disease orphans millions of young children. Immense number of mothers and fathers lost their daughters and sons. Moreover, many dear friends lost one another. AIDS also has adverse economic problems; it has destroyed the economic growth of many countries. That is because; it affects sexually active people who are also very strong and economically productive. In some countries, especially African countries the purchase of expensive drugs has weakened government funds. In addition, World Bank estimated that AIDS had reversed ten to fifteen years of economic growth for some African countries by the end of the 20th century.
Although the havoc effect of the disease is increasing and moving a jet- like speed towards killing and destroying our young adults, we seem that we are losing the war against it, because we are using a wrong tactics towards fighting against HIV/AIDS. We are employing methods, which are not applicable to our culture, our norms, and our religion. As highly developed countries are acting leaders of the world both politically and economically, they formulated the following methods in terms of their culture and their norms without any regard to our culture and our religion. Their formulated methods are the following; Condom usage; HIV test before marriage; blood check before donation; avoidance of drug abuse; and maintenance of long-term partner .As the foreign meretricious methods failed to catch up with Somali culture, beliefs and norms, the strategy of fighting against the disease has became useless and all the procedures has became ineffective and fruitless.
Condom usage is one of the methods that can reduce the vastly growing disaster of HIV /AIDS. Condom is a highly effective sheet that can reduce HIV transmission among people, but its inability to catch up with the cultural practice in Somaliland/Somalia is very basic and primary truth. There was a great motivation towards condom encouragement in the first years when the campaign against HIV/ AIDS began in Somaliland and Somalia. At that time there were frequent seminars intended to teach people ways to minimize AIDS expansion. Whatever, condom has always been one of the methods, which is repeatedly addressed to people by seminar lecturers. Moreover, this time, foreign health staff and their Somali coworkers have had enough courage to tell people about condom efficiency and its usage. Now this campaign has become sluggish and reached a complete failure. Listening today's addresses about AIDS awareness you will never hear the word condom. For one thing, Somali people culturally dislike fornication so that it is very difficult for them to accept condom usage and anything related to sex. In my survey 89% of the respondents declared that they do not use condom totally. While 8% of the respondents declared that they use condom rarely, the remained 3% indicated that they use it constantly. Similarly, I surveyed twenty pharmacies in Borama town to confirm how the people failed to adopt condom usage. About 18 out of those 20 pharmacies told me that they do not sell condom to people now and before. The remained two pharmacies indicated that they were selling condom only to certain individuals they know who use it for family planning only. As those fast majorities of the respondents opposed condom selling, the reason behind their repugnance of the condom is their faith and the reputation of their businesses. They said if they sold condoms, the reputation of their businesses would fall down. Most of the respondents of those twenty pharmacies insisted condom selling is morally and religiously wrong.
In addition, Somali people have no enough knowledge about how international economic entities work. They have no the right concept about business laws, ethics, and social responsibilities of multi-national corporations. For that reason, most of the Somali people believed that condom itself is infected. Mythically, they believed that western companies injected the virus in the condom intentionally to massacre Africans and to reduce African high population growth.
The greatest trauma that destroyed condom usage in Somaliland/Somalia is the Islamic religion, which is most sensitive element in the culture. Islamic religion does not accept condom usage totally. Most of the religious leaders extremely worry about condom impact on the religion, because condom can facilitate and simplify fornication and adultery. Religious leaders scared that a tremendous number of people may misinterpret illegal sex as an acceptable behavior if the condom usage is allowed. They confirm that Condom is an evil thing that can create an atmosphere of menace to the religion. Despite their opposition against the condom usage, religious leaders have also started a campaign against it. They began to address people in mosques and in social gathering the evilness of the condom usage and its violation against Islamic religion. Although there were some debates about condom legality, religious leaders defeated health staff and persuaded them not to encourage people to use the condom any more. As a result, foreign health officers and their Somali coworkers gave up most of the activities related to condom encouragement.
HIV TEST BEFORE MARRIAGE is another method, which can reduce HIV/AIDS transmission among newly marrying couples if it is used properly. Doctors always suggest people to examine one another’s HIV/AIDS status before they get married. According to Somali culture and beliefs, the implementation of this advice is not possible. To say the word "let us have HIV test" is as very difficult for Somali people as climbing Mount Everest. Somali people dislike AIDS and believe that it extremely damages the dignity and the personality of the infected person and his family’s reputation. For that reason if one of newly marrying couples request HIV test from his or her partner, the other partner supposes him or her self to be insulted and humiliated. Then their relationship may deteriorate or destroy because of that word. In my survey 69% of the respondents said that, they would accept HIV tests if their female partners request, the remained 31% of the respondents refused to accept the request. Despite this fact, I interviewed one of the laboratory physicians of Borama general hospital about how HIV tests of newly marrying couples are. The physician who has been working there many years told me that he met only couples who request HIV test before their marriage and this number is too small to be told. For that reason, Somali people failed to adopt HIV test before marriage.
BLOOD DONATION is one of the ways people can contaminate HIV/AIDS from one to another. Every day donors give blood and recipients receive it. Every day some of us need blood for many reasons, some of us encounter injuries caused by car accidents, knifing; shooting, others may have surgeries that need blood. Although blood donation is indispensable, Somali people who receive blood every day are still in jeopardy, because it is very complicated to prevent recipients to receive a contaminated blood. For example, people can donate while they are contaminated only before days, weeks, and months. If one recently contaminated person donates a blood to another person it would be very hard to notice that he or she is positively infected, because there are too few HIV antibodies in the blood. For instance, if you test the blood of a newly infected person, it will be negative. If you test it again after six months, it will be positive. For the existence of that dangerous uncertainty, today's patients are opting preoperative blood transfusion , while Somali people do not use this technique to minimize the risk of blood transfusion. However, the risk and the uncertainty of blood transfusion increase with increasing number of those positively infected individuals in the society. As the foreign strategy that we were applying to limit HIV/AIDS transmission seems to fail, and a number of HIV positive individuals in our society are kept mushrooming, the transmission of AIDS through blood donation will increase rapidly.
Drug abuse is one of the hazardous agents that speed up HIV transmission. Drug abusers are more likely to contract the disease then non-drug abusers. Because drugs damage rational thinking and oblige people to think irrationally. Are Somali people free from drug abuse? The answer is “no”. Chewing Khat is common activity in all Somali society. In addition, Somali people accustomed chewing Khat, which is one of the highly addictive drugs. Khat is amphetamine drug group and has all the characteristics of that group including suspicion, anxiety, and loses of appetite
This widely used drug; Khat helps AIDS increase either in two ways. First it stimulates the sexual desire of some users, when the sexual desire of the chewing person increases, he tries to have sex more then when he is normal. At night when the person finishes chewing and freaks out he walks around to get sexually involved, if he has sex he does it without considering the health status of the partner. In the light of the presence of HIV/AIDS today, the more frequently the person tries unwise sexual intercourse, the more risk of contracting AIDS. Secondly, Khat enforces some other users to lose sexual desire. A high proportion of the Somali men who chew Khat daily become unable to have Sex. Then the loss of the sexual appetite of these Khat addicted men leads many Somali wives to suspect their husbands. These Somali wives are doubtful that their husbands practice extramarital sex. In addition, this suspicion changes into conflict and some times the couples trade insult. Suspicion and continuous insult between couples deteriorates their relationship. After that, the situation ends into divorce. When the family destroys, both partners may become emotionally disturbed and find it difficult to remarry. Then both of them become self-indulgent and very prone to practice fornication, which is more likely to lead them to contract AIDS. Enforcing people to practice unwise sexual intercourse and destroying families, Khat is one of the dangerous agents that speed up AIDS transmission.
Maintenance of long-term partner is one method to put AIDS transmission under control. Today Somali people have failed to practice monogamous relationship. Few decades ago, there were little or no boys and girls to meet face to face during their courtship. Despite this, very little partners were practicing multi-partner relationship because Somali people were very traditionalists. Today most of the partners meet whenever and wherever they like. As The Somali culture is losing its strength, the number of boys and girls who practice multi-partner relationship are increasing dramatically. Our culture is becoming weak, our costumes and beliefs, which were once strong, are changing into easily breakable mirror. Large behaviors, which were once disgusting, are becoming acceptable today. For instance, few decades ago, premarital pregnancy was shameful and humiliating. However, today it seems something normal.
The presence of immense TV channels, internet, and telephones accelerated the negative cultural change of the Somali youth. TV channels and internet are westernizing the habit of the teenagers. This has brought about the assimilation of the Somali culture. Somali teenagers imitate the western way of conduct. TV channels and internet made available for teenagers and young adults to watch romance and sex films, which in turn, make easier for them to try to have sex during their dates. Recent advances of telecommunication in Somaliland and Somalia simplified dating. Today immense number of boys and girls has mobile and large number of houses own telephones. This new development of telecommunication simplified dating and friendly conversations among teenagers and young adults. The more the communication is highly improved among boys and girls, the more sexual encounters. However, my survey of hundred people, 81% of the respondents declared that they practice multi-partner relationship, while 12% of the respondents declared that they practice monogamous relationship, and the remained 7% declared that they practice nothing. As fast majority of sexually active teenagers and young adults practice multi-partner relationship, the slogan that says, "Maintain long term partner" completely failed.
We have so far then recognized the failure of the foreign strategy to fight against the disease, and we have realized that HIV/AIDS transmits mainly through sexual contact between the opposite sexes. Can female circumcision be another alternative for the minimization of HIV/AIDS expansion? In a loud and a clear voice, I say “yes”, because it discourages girls to involve sex with men. That is because the clitoris, which is the most sensitive part to sex is removed during circumcision. Girl's sexual desire decreases then. This gives them a power to overcome any excessive sexual appetite they may otherwise have. This also greatly reduces more or less sexual encounters of opposite sexes, and then the reduction of sexual encounters decreases the HIV transmission. On the other hand, circumcision infibulates vagina, which greatly decreases HIV transmission, that is because two fluids, the vagina fluid and the semen cause HIV/AIDS transmission during sexual intercourse . During sex, both of these fluids are interchanged inside vagina .So when a vagina is infibulated; men find it hard to penetrate. If man is positively infected, woman has great chance to survive from being infected since infected semen is unlikely to reach inside her vagina. And likewise if woman is positively infected; man has great chance to survive from being infected since his penis is denied of penetration and unable to reach infected vaginal fluid inside vagina.
Furthermore, Somali traditionalists have been using female circumcision to keep the virginity of woman and to prevent woman from premarital pregnancy. After the great effort of health agencies and local organizations interested health affairs to prove that, circumcision is more dangerous than what they have been using to solve it. Most of the Somali people realized circumcision should no longer be practiced. Now, it is clear that AIDS epidemic has greater harm than circumcision does and circumcision could be a weapon against AIDS. To understand clearly how HIV/AIDS is more dangerous then female circumcision let us definitely explain the problems of the female circumcision and HIV/AIDS.
Female circumcision is genital mutilation that destroys and extremely reduces woman's sexual desire. Clitoris, which is most sensitive part of the sexual pleasure of woman, is removed, then the removal of the clitoris leads woman to lose sexual pleasure partially or completely and sometimes cause woman to be permanently frigid. Moreover, circumcision damages the health of woman. Lack of clean and sterilized appropriate facilities change the situation of the surgery from bad to worse; unclean facilities bring tetanus to young girls who undergo the surgery. The carelessness of the individuals who carry out the surgery to clean and sterilize razor blades and the other facilities they use for the surgery can increase AIDS transmission, but this obstacle can be easily coped with . This Surgery sometimes causes severe bleeding and chronic infection. In addition, infibulations can interrupt basic physiological process of menstruation, passing urine, and elasticity of birth canal. Consequently, these physiological malfunctions may lead woman to the permanent infertility and death. However,
HIV/AIDS seriously damages human being and economic development. This silent killer affects large mass of people in small period. Particularly, it affects young adults who are in the most productive age. Enormous people have died for it. Others have lost their close relatives. As some children have lost their parents because of AIDS, large number of orphans has been deprived of both financial and moral support. Sometimes the orphans are denied of the necessities such as food, education, and the basic socialization that children needs. Huge number of very old and poor mothers and fathers has lost their supporting breadwinner daughters and sons. Many dear friends have lost one another. As the signs of HIV/AIDS cannot be recognized for a long time and HIV positive individuals are not honest about their HIV status, the havoc effect of virus will increase time after time. AIDS will kill millions of people around world. Specially, Africa will be the most dangerous continent the disease will have prolong harmful effect on it.
According to the WHO, Economic destruction of AIDS has adverse effect on development of countries. In Africa, it affects sexually active people in their 20s and 30s, who are also most strong and economically productive. In some countries especially African countries, the purchase of expensive drugs drained government funds. According to the World Bank, AIDS had reserved ten to fifteen years of economic growth for some of African countries by last century.
HIV/AIDS has also harmful personal problems. As the risk of the disease increases rapidly, some people suspect and think to contract HIV/AIDS one ever they have sex with somebody, though they may not have contracted the disease. Teenagers and young adults are the most suspicious group who worry whenever they have sex. Therefore, suspected teenagers and young adults face depression and melancholy. They feel sorry for themselves. They think that they are HIV positive and different from the healthy people. They withdraw from friends. They lose food appetite. Among those suspected people are a large number of students who miss their classes frequently because of the extreme emotional pain of the suspicion. Some of the suspected students fail some of their important exams. Similarly, suspected workers go their jobs late and perform poorly. Exam failure and poor performance of suspected students and workers may lead them to lose their future opportunities. Another problem is that HIV/AIDS patients do not get appropriate care. Most of AIDS patients are ostracized by their friends and their relatives. Both patient's relatives and friends fear to contract the disease if they care the sick, or they hate patient because he or she did fornication that Allah prohibited from Muslim people. The greatest problem of AIDS is that it kills people painfully. When the immune system of the infected individuals slips into total chaos, many opportunistic parasites bring infections to patients. Particularly, mouth and throat infection fiercely endangers the life of the patients. Because of the infection of mouth and throat, patients cannot take food and drinking which are very necessary for their care. For AIDS patients, mastication and swallowing of food is as very difficult as swallowing a very hot glowing coal. In addition, when patients become bedridden many opportunistic diseases such as Kaposi's sarcoma bring skin infection to them. These opportunistic infections and the long term that AIDS patients lie on bed, changes the skin of the patients into a decayed banana. When the body of bedridden HIV/AIDS patients’ presses against bed for long time, blood flow is restricted, as a result, cells die and wounds may develop. After these disgusting wounds appear, those who care the patients fear to touch their bodies. They scare to feed, to bath, and to help them. Consequently, helpless HIV/AIDS patients do not get the adequate care they need.
Really, the comparison between the harmfulness of HIV/AIDS and female circumcision is madness against sanity. AIDS is more serious than circumcision is. If then AIDS is more destructive than circumcision and circumcision could be better solution of HIV/AIDS floodtide disaster, I am encouraging Somali woman to tolerate pain and sexual mutilation of circumcision to rescue their society from the dangerous effect of HIV/AIDS until a complete treatment is available. However, inescapable question is, do men are ready to rescue their society if it become necessary? Simply the answer is yes. For centuries, men were the only participants of battle where many brutal actions occur. As men fight to defend reputation and existence of their societies, they always encounter many cruelties. In battlefields, soldiers hear the shrill of their injured friends. And the sight of the rotting corpses of their friends sickens them. Soldiers face moral depression because sometimes war damages innocent people specially, elders, children, and woman who live near battlefields and in conquered villages. As result, some soldiers have become insane. Some of the captured soldiers last their lives in unpleasant prisons where they are always underfed, beaten and punished ruthlessly. Large numbers of soldiers are handicapped by the war; they lose some of their important organs such as hands, feet, and eyes, which are lifeblood to individual survival. Why men tolerate? Are they enforced to shoulder the harsh problems of the war? Simply, men tolerate the problems of the war to defend their societies. Because men are more appropriate than woman to participate war. Physical and moral strength of men made them easier to tolerate physical and moral damages of the war. Considering female circumcision to be a weapon against HIV/AIDS expansion, I am suggesting those countries that circumcision was their custom to rethink and let female circumcision continue. In addition, I am encouraging girls to tolerate physiological and psychological damages of circumcision to rescue their society from HIV/AIDS epidemic. all in all, I am suggesting to the society to move from the long dark night of carelessness into bright day of awareness and ideological independence, Because the calamity of HIV /AIDS is moving a cheetah- like speed ,while our struggle to tackle this deadly disease is moving a tortoise- like speed.
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