A Fun Suggestion – Circumcise All Tanzanian MPs


There’s a certain element of tongue in cheekiness to this suggestion – or perhaps it’s simply to make a political point. The idea is that Tanzanian MPs should have to show that they are circumcised and if they’re not they should have the chop. This not being something that any adult male contemplates lightly, it’s something much better deal with at the beginning of infancy if it is to happen at all.

But here’s the suggestion:

A female MP in Tanzania has called for checks to determine whether or not her male colleagues have undergone circumcision — a procedure known to reduce the risk of HIV transmission.
Jackline Ngonyani said any MPs found not to have been circumcised should be required to undergo the procedure.
HIV is seen as a major threat to public health in Tanzania. Around 70 per cent of the male population is circumcised. HIV infection rates are unknown exactly but believed to be about 5~% of all Tanzanian adults.

The point being made is that MPs should indeed practice what is preached. Circumcision is indeed a partial prophylactic against HIV transmission and it’s not just the period out of action immediately after it that matters. So, given the usual ritual statements that all must do their bit in the fight against HIV, why not?

There would be a certain joy at contemplating the short arm inspection of all politicians to check of course – but a joy in contemplation, not in taking part.

Do note though that we don’t think that MPs are a major locus of infection. Making sure every lorry driver is circumcised would have more direct effect. The major merit here is the political effect. Politicians tend to talk a good game but when it actually comes to doing anything….

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Jonathan Harston
Jonathan Harston

It’s mainly because the glans scabs over and removes the soft tissue transmission vector.

I have a personal theory about the correlation between endemic violence and prevalance of circumscision in a population – America, Middle East….


The validity of circumcision in preventing HIV is very much unsettled. Initial claims were found to be dubious as they were made by Jewish doctors who wanted the whole world to undergo this brutal mutilation. Interestingly, circumcised men are more likely to undergo erectile dysfunction in later life owing to reduced sensitivity.

M Lyndon
M Lyndon

Male circumcision is a dangerous distraction in the fight against AIDS. From a USAID report: “There appears no clear pattern of association between male circumcision and HIV prevalence—in 8 of 18 countries with data, HIV prevalence is lower among circumcised men, while in the remaining 10 countries it is higher.” (this will include men who were circumcised tribally rather than medically, but they and their partners may also believe themselves to be protected, and the whole rationale for the RCTs into female-to-male transmission was a purported correlation between high rates of male circumcision and low rates of HIV) From a… Read more »