What you are about to read does not exist. At least that’s what some influential people would have you believe.
Today we bring you yet another partner that should never have gotten on Development and Peace’s roster because of their violation of Church teaching. For those keeping score at home, this is #51 on the list. You can view the updated tote board here.
As we approach the Plenary Assembly of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (October 17-21), Socon or Bust wants to make sure that the bishops have as complete a list as possible of the dubious partners at D&P. Since there are signs that the bishops are cleaning up D&P, we’d better make sure they don’t miss any dirty spots.
As our regular readers know, when a country’s flag appears on a post about Development and Peace, it can only mean one thing: an anti-life partner has been busted on their soil. The flag on the right belongs to the Sierra Leone, a small country on the west coast of Africa. It has the misfortune of hosting two troublesome D&P partners. I’ll present the first one today.
#51: Network Movement for Justice and Development
The partner on the carpet for today is called Network Movement for Justice and Development (NMJD). They’re listed on page 65 of D&P’s 2006-2011 Africa Program (backup link is here). NMJD is active in the “rubber” industry, and I ain’t talking tires or door stops.
Like virtually any organization, NMJD has an Annual Report where it lists its accomplishments in each year. In their 2004 report, under the heading “Impacts of Activities Undertaken”, we read the following “accomplishment”:
3. Heightened HIV/AIDS awareness has led to a decrease in denial of HIV/AIDS and the de-stigmatization of condoms as evidenced by the increase in demand and use of condoms. (Source, page 10, backup link here)
That’s quite an “accomplishment” for an organization receiving your Catholic donation dollars. They brag about generating a similar increase in condom use in their 2005 report. In 2006, their report suggests that they actually distribute the condoms at their office and “condom outlet”:
Increased number in the use of condom as evidenced by the number of people reaching the office and condom outlet for supply. In 2005 1 carton of condom was distributed monthly, but in 2006, 2 cartons of condoms were distributed monthly. (Source, backup here)
They also held a “condom race”, whatever the heck that means (do you really wanna know?). The 2007 report also has similar accomplishments.
External parties are touting NMJD’s rubber exploits too. In 2006, some researchers did an analysis of the impact of NMJD’s programming on youth in Sierra Leone. The results of the research were published in the “XVI International AIDS Conference.” The abstract of their paper is published here (backup link here). They start by identifying the project which is the subject of their research:
Network Movement for Justice and Development’s youth project in Kenema aims to address a lack of HIV awareness and promote safer sexual behaviour. Techniques include peer education, life-skills classes, drama, sports and mass media work.
The study assessed HIV knowledge and attitudes and sexual behaviour before and after intervention.
Here are the results of NMJD’s intervention:
Improvements occurred in HIV knowledge and attitudes in targeted youth compared to non-targeted. Significant increases in reported condom use occurred amongst targeted out-of-school youth compared to non-targeted. Targeted and non-targeted in-school youths had similar condom use increases.
Among their conclusions:
The project demonstrated some increased knowledge and contributed to changes in condom use amongst targeted youths, especially out-of-school youth. However, knowledge levels and condom use remain low, facilitating HIV transmission.
So there’s no doubt that NMJD was involved in programming that not only encouraged youth to use condoms, but apparently was successful in changing behaviours, especially among kids not in schools.
Of note, in the most recent annual report on their website (2009), there is no mention of condoms. Have they discontinued this line of work? Did they close the condom outlet and stop the condom races? I don’t know. But their website does contain a document published in June 2010 (backup link) that summarizes a retreat of local NGOs on the issue of poverty in which the low use of condoms is decried as deplorable. Hence, I think bishops should definitely take a closer look to make sure what’s going on here. Several months ago, I exchanged a number of emails with the Executive Director of NMJD, Mr. Abu Brima but I had lot of trouble getting any answers out of him.
Don’t get me wrong: HIV is a serious disease and efforts must be made to prevent its spread. The Church is adamant about that. But condoms are not the solution, both because they are a morally unacceptable approach and because, quite simply, they’re not effective in preventing the spread of the disease. Read a great article from John on the problems with contraception here (no backup link required :-P)
Socon or Bust extends its sincerest regrets to the people of Sierra Leone for this immoral sexual imperialism on their territory. We pray that the situation will be rectified soon.
[Footnote: you may have noticed the use of “backup links” above. This is Socon or Bust’s response to the systematic scrubbing of websites by D&P partners once they get busted. A wonderful service has been created called WebCite that allows people to archive web pages. Socon or Bust will use this service to create backups of all incriminating evidence against D&P. If ever the original “Source” link becomes dysfunctional, just use the backup link. You deserve to see the truth.]