Uncircumcised men are being chased through the streets naked by knife wielding gangs intent on cutting off their foreskins according to reports from Uganda.
A misguided campaign aimed at reducing HIV transmission through mass circumcision has gone badly wrong in Uganda with knife wielding gangs chasing uncircumcised through the streets intent on cutting off their foreskins.
More than 200 men have been attacked; 2 have come close to death; police have used tear gas to disperse gangs; terrified men are rushing into hospital to have emergency circumcisions to avoid being violently attacked for having a foreskin and surgeons have been arrested and charged with assault.
The Africa Report carries a shocking story of one naked victim being chased through the streets of Mbale in Uganda by a gang of more than 50 and a scalpel wielding surgeon. The man sought sanctuary in the Resident District Administrators office where guards fought off the assailants.
Other men have not been so lucky. According to a report in The Atlantic Wire more than 40 men have been subjected to forced circumcision in two days due to a "disturbing mix of cultural and science-based values". The men who fell prey to the forced circumcision campaign were targeted because their wives or girlfriends were part of the Bamasaba tribe, which prescribes circumcision to all males from the age of 15
"We are helping those who feared getting circumcised through cultural processes," said program leader Badru Wasike, who told Africa Report that it was a cultural and health exercise. "We are aware that circumcised men do not easily get infected with HIV/AIDS. Since they love our relatives we want them to be safe."
According to a report in The Ugandan Daily Newspaper, New Vision
It is estimated that a total number of about 220 people have been circumcised from the time the exercise began. Dr. Jaffer Balyejjusa a senior Consultant surgeon at Mbale regional Referral Hospital has condemned the act of forceful circumcision. He said that so far they have received two cases where the victims had been circumcised badly putting lives in danger.
The Ugandan Observer newspaper reports that business in Mbale was paralysed when unruly youth stormed the streets and began indiscriminately circumcising anyone they came across.
Many businessmen of different ethnicities, that do not practise circumcision, locked their shops and fled. Those captured yelled in pain as they were circumcised in front of onlookers in the suburbs where different ethnic groups reside or do businesses.
Police engaged in a hide-and-seek game with errant youth and used tear gas to disperse crowds and three traditional surgeons involved in this operation have been arrested and face charges of forcefully inflicting harm on their victims.
At least 46 men between the ages of 30 to 70 rushed to Mbale referral hospital to be circumcised to avoid having their genitals mutilated by angry mobs.
Police Commander Micahel Ongica said.
“Some members of the business community have come to us seeking security because these hooligans are attacking anyone they presume uncircumcised. We shall arrest and prosecute anyone found loitering in town looking to destabilize peace in the name of circumcision”
Human rights activist Keneth Mabonga told The Africa Report "Men were told to unzip on the streets to ascertain whether they had been circumcised. That is not only unfair but also inhuman."
In and insightful report in the Ugandan newspaper The Observer, Patience Akumu describes the rising problem of forcefully-circumcised men reveals a failure to acknowledge men as victims of gender-based violence:
"Tales of the brutal arrests and forceful circumcision the men go through are rife, but somehow they never receive that much attention. It is hard for society to fathom that the macho men can be on the receiving end of physical and verbal attacks, particularly in the private arena where they rule as kings. Sexual and gender-based violence campaigns almost always focus on women as victims and the men only feature as perpetrators."
Some cultural leaders condemned the act. John Musila, a spokesman for the Bamasaba tribe said:
"We as Bamasaba condemn indiscriminate cutting of non-Bagisu. In our culture, non-Bamasaba cannot be forced into circumcision unless they accept on their own. Those forcing non-Bamasaba into circumcision should not be associated with our culture and those doing it, should be cautioned"
Meanwhile, in Zimbabwe, MPs are setting aside political differences to promote mass circumcision - click here for the story - and an African baby bled to death after being circumcised in London.