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Southeast Asia, explained

Every man in Papua, Indonesia must get circumcised

Hoping to stem HIV/AIDS, local officials insist the snip must be mandatory. Even for adult males.
Papua circumcision 2012 02 10Enlarge
Papuanese tribal men pose for a photograph during the Baliem Valley Festival on August 9, 2010 in Wamena, Indonesia. (Ulet Ifansasti/AFP/Getty Images)

Papuan foreskins, your days days are numbered: the remote Indonesian province's officials are demanding that all males -- including grown men -- must report to clinics for circumcision in 2012.

This coming mandate was revealed to the Jakarta Globe by a Papuan administrative spokesman describing a new campaign against the spread of HIV/AIDS.

This means of fighting the virus has become en vogue in Africa and elsewhere as reputable institutions, such as the United Nations and the World Health Organization, offer "compelling evidence" that the snip can reduce the odds of infection in straight men by up to 60 percent.

What we don't know yet -- the Globe concedes -- is how the government will summon men to clinics or punish them if they fail to report.

HIV is indeed a threat in jungly Papua: roughly 3.6 percent of Papuans have the virus, according to the Asia-Pacific Business Coalition on AIDS. That's the worst rate of any Indonesian province.

But is this a human rights catastrophe in the making?

Human rights watchdogs decry state-imposed canings of in Indonesia's Aceh. But buttocks heal. Foreskins don't grow back. Will the same watchdogs defend the men who don't want their penises sliced by scalpels and permanently altered?

Indonesia is already trying to tame anti-government sentiment and a budding separatist rebellion in Papua. I can't imagine forcible circumcision will endear the state to Papuan men.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/southeast-asia/every-man-papua-indonesia-must-get-circumcised

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