Force for good in Sinagpore

Girls playing pool in a Batam barSingapore wants its citizens to take more responsibility for their sexual behaviour, Bloomberg reports. “We’re trying to find a way essentially to ask them to be responsible for their own actions,” said Koh Peng Keng, the Health Ministry’s senior director of operations.” “Them”, in this case, is people who do daft things like have unprotected anal sex with casual partners, or who don’t use condoms when they go whoring in the neighbouring Indonesian island of Batam (where more than 1 sex worker in 10 is HIV-infected). And how will the nation state nudge people to take more responsibility for themselves? By making personal responsibility a matter for the courts, of course. The idea seems to be that if any one does anything “risky” without telling their subsequent partners, they can be prosecuted (even if they later test HIV negative).

This has set all the usual suspects shrieking about stigma, discrimination and abuse of human rights, of course. For my part, since I believe HIV negative people have rights too, I don’t have a problem with routine HIV testing. I increasingly think partner notification should be routine too, as long as everyone involved is guaranteed access to the care and the prevention services they need. The problem with this (still rather vague draft) law is not that it is coercive, it is that it is unenforceable. Just like Batam’s decree that forbids non-marital sex without condoms.

This post was published on 13/02/08 in Ideology and HIV, The sex trade.

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