U.S.-funded groups gear up to carry out a massive sterilization campaign in this tiny African country
Not too many years ago, 800,000 Rwandans perished when their
country descended into a bloody civil war. Now their government, with
the encouragement of groups funded by the U.S. Agency for
International Development, appears poised to launch a nationwide
sterilization campaign that may have equally disastrous demographic
The plan calls for 700,000 men to be sterilized over the next three
years. To put this number into perspective, bear in mind that,
according to the latest UN Population Division estimates, the entire
male population of Rwanda is only 5 million. Moreover, of this number
roughly 70 percent are not candidates for vasectomies, since they are
under the age of 20 or over the age of 50. This means that, of the 1.5
million men who are left, half are slated to be sterilized.
According to the BBC and Rwandan news outlets, the Rwandan
government is introducing this campaign on the heels of a large-scale
effort to circumcise men (a procedure which allegedly "protects
against" HIV/AIDS infection). However, as the New Times
reports, the real reason circumcision was included was simply because
"it allows us get to the men’s reproductive system and in the
process we advise them on condom use and vasectomy."
Not only this, but back in 2008, health officials informed the BBC
that these "circumcision campaigns" would be practiced first
on "the newborn and young men in universities, the army and
police." It appears that the army and police will be first in
line for vasectomies as well. While many Rwandans balk at the idea of
being sterilized, "correspondents say many in the armed forces
will regard it as an order" even though it will be
In this they are absolutely correct. I was an officer in the U.S.
Navy during the Vietnam War. Understand that any time your superior
officer asks you to do something, it is tantamount to an order,
whether it is formally phrased that way or not. The men in the ranks
will be circumcised and sterilized because they have been told to
undergo these operations. They know that, if they fail to do so, their
careers will be jeopardized.
The plan, nominally drawn up by the Rwandan Ministry of Health, is
being actively supported by at least two USAID-funded population
control groups: Intrahealth and Family Health International.
Intrahealth proudly advertises that it is conducting
surveys of men who have received vasectomies already, and will use
"lessons learned to inform recommendations regarding the scale-up
of vasectomy services in other districts as requested by the Maternal
and Child Health Task Force of the Ministry of Health."
Family Health International, for its part, is "supporting
the Rwandan MOH to increase access to quality vasectomy services in
Rwanda by training physicians across the country…"
Rwandan government claims that it wants men to ‘go willingly’ for
sterilization, but it also has a hard quota of 700,000 vasectomies
which it wants to meet over the next three years. In PRI’s
experience, every single time a sterilization campaign has had a
target and a timetable, it inevitably involves coercion and other
human rights abuses, just as surely as night follows day.
We ask the Rwandan government to
end this campaign before it gets underway in earnest. The
consequences of sterilizing half of all men of reproductive age will
have a serious negative impact on the Rwandan family and economy, and
cause additional human suffering among an already-traumatized
It may also reignite the Rwandan
genocide, as the majority Hutus target the minority Tutsis for
sterilization. We at PRI have documented many cases where U.S.-funded
population control campaigns have been directed by an ethnic, racial,
or religious majority at a despised minority.
We ask the U.S. Congress to
investigate the groups collaborating with this campaign. It is
a violation of U.S. law for U.S. funds to be used in conjunction with
any program with involves targets or quotas, threats or intimidation,
or other coercive measures. And it is a matter of fact that the
groups involved with this campaign are funded by USAID using American
We will do everything in our power
to expose any misuse of U.S. taxpayer dollars and halt this genocidal
campaign against the Rwandan people.