Sexually transmitted diseases are a pox on the earth, but do we really need to single out the infected few for panopticonic surveilling?
JAKARTA, Indonesia — Lawmakers in Indonesia’s remote province of Papua
have thrown their support behind a controversial bill requiring some
HIV/AIDS patients to be implanted with microchips — part of extreme
efforts to monitor the disease. Health workers and rights activists
sharply criticized the plan Monday. But legislator John Manangsang
said by implanting small computer chips beneath the skin of “sexually
aggressive” patients, authorities would be in a better position to
identify, track and ultimately punish those who deliberately infect
others with up to six months in jail or a $5,000 fine.
Indonesia is the world’s fourth most populous country and has
one of Asia’s fastest growing HIV rates, with up to 290,000 infections
out of 235 million people, fueled mainly by intravenous drug users and
prostitution. But Papua, the country’s easternmost and poorest province
with a population of about 2 million, has been hardest hit. Its case
rate of almost 61 per 100,000 is 15 times the national average,
according to internationally funded research, which blames lack of
knowledge about sexually transmitted diseases.
Criminalizing legal, bad, behavior is not the duty of the government —
that correction belongs to parents and churches — and if we pay for
the public welfare of the citizenry, then we need to educate and
encourage changes in behavior instead of punishing the misbegotten and
the ill with fines and a watchful following.