Complicity of doctors in forced anal examinations
- Thursday, 19 October 2017
Doctors, medical professionals, and national medical associations should heed the World Medical Association's October 2017 resolution to end forced anal examinations on people accused of homosexual conduct, Human Rights Watch states. The General Assembly of the World Medical Association (WMA) condemned the use of forced anal examinations to seek evidence of consensual homosexual conduct.
Forced anal examinations often involve doctors or other medical personnel forcibly inserting their fingers, and sometimes other objects, into a person's anus to attempt to determine whether that person has engaged in anal intercourse. The exams, relied upon as "evidence" in prosecutions for consensual same-sex conduct in some countries, have no scientific basis, violate medical ethics, and constitute cruel, degrading, and inhuman treatment that can rise to the level of torture.
"There is no excuse for governments to continue conducting forced anal exams on people accused of homosexuality," said Neela Ghoshal, senior researcher on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights at Human Rights Watch. "The World Medical Association has added its voice to an overwhelming consensus that forced anal exams are unethical, unscientific, and unjustifiable on any grounds."
Doctors: stop conducting anal exams
The World Medical Association resolution calls on doctors to stop conducting the exams. It calls on national medical associations to issue written communications prohibiting their members from participating in them, and to educate doctors and health workers about "the unscientific and futile nature of forced anal exams and the fact that they are a form of torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment." It also calls on the World Health Organization to make an official statement opposing forced anal exams as unscientific and in violation of medical ethics, which would build on an existing reference that condemns the practice.
Countries in which anal exams are still being carried out include Egypt, Tanzania, Cameroon, Turkmenistan, Uganda, and Zambia. According to Human Rights Watch, Lebanon and Tunisia have made recent progress toward ending anal exams. "In both cases, national medical associations played a key role in shifting their governments' positions. The Kenya Medical Association, in September, became the latest medical association to condemn the use of forced anal examinations, although the Attorney General's Office has attempted to defend their use."
Neela Ghoshal: "Doctors play a critical role in upholding ethical standards and are often part of the moral compass of society. In Egypt, in Tanzania, and in all countries in which people are being subjected to forced anal examinations, doctors should take the lead in ending these horrific abuses."
Source and more information: Global Medical Body Condemns Forced Anal Exams. News article Human Rights Watch