Which one is wrong? HIV or Homosexuality?
``Habitual passive sodomite takes knee-chest position without shame during examination." —From Principles of Forensic Medicine by staff members of the Forensic & Clinical Toxicology Department. Ain Shams University Faculty of Medicine.
Forensic examinations to prove habitual non-violent anal penetration are inherited from the textbooks of Victorian era medicine.
There are no peer-reviewed research that provides sound evidence in that area. Because sodomy was decriminalized in western Europe by the beginning of the 20th century. While countries that still considers such acts criminal are not publishers of sound peer-reviewed research.
Today, most of the descriptions inherited from old text books are easily discounted.
During the Victorian era, the forensic examiner was bound to find any evidence to suit the criminal code. Back then medical discoveries were written in manuscripts with sample sizes that can be counted on one hand.
Their best evidence, however, was unrelated to the physical act. The presence of a sexually transmitted disease was their best bet.
Egypt's forensic doctors today are in a situation that is far worse than that of European doctors in the 1800s. Back then syphilis and other venereal diseases didn't have treatment. Today their best bet is either HIV (which is not prevalent) or finding traces of lubricants. For the lubricants it is easily discounted on the measure of an uncharted personal fantasy.
Here, doctors are alone regarding documentation of physical evidence, without any support from the international medical community.
Doctors may be reluctant to research this, but they still write incriminating reports. Additionally, this kind of pointless examination, consented for or not, is a form of abuse.
Recently, a court upheld the sentencing of five men diagnosed with HIV and might have engaged in “habitual practice of debauchery” to maximum prison sentence[3,5]. Three years.
You would expect that their sexual orientation was the reason they were incarcerated. No, it turned out that they released three other men, who tested negative for HIV, without charge, after months in detention!!
Most of the men were subjected to torture and at some point were handcuffed to hospital beds.
Now, I can't understand. Is it the stigma of HIV/AIDS or homosexuality that brought those men to jail?
Or did the prosecutor know that forensic doctors can't prove anything without a sexually transmitted disease?
Anyways, a quick poll(n=32) posted last week to see the opinion of blog readers towards this case showed that 63% were opposed to this sentence, around 19% agreed and 19% were undecided.
This poll is probably unrepresentative to what the general public in Egypt feel about this. If they knew about it.
More importantly, it is crucial that forensic doctors in Egypt stop writing reports based on anecdotal medical evidence just to suit the law.
- Rowbotham, J., & Stevenson, K. (2005). Criminal Conversations: Victorian Crimes, Social Panic, and Moral Outrage (p. 318). Ohio State UniversityPress.
- Stark, M., & Stark, M. M. (2000). A Physician's Guide to Clinical Forensic Medicine (p. 326). Humana Press.
- Egypt: Court Upholds HIV Sentences, Reinforces Intolerance (Human Rights Watch, 29-5-2008). . Retrieved June 7, 2008, from http://hrw.org/english/docs/2008/05/29/egypt18959.htm.
- Knight, & Knight, B. 1. (1998). Lawyers Guide to Forensic Medicine. Cavendish Publishing.
- Singer, M. (2008, May 30). Human rights groups blast court decision on HIV convictions. Daily News Egypt. Retrieved June 7, 2008, from http://www.dailystaregypt.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=14105.