KIGALI, February 10, 2011 ( – The government of Rwanda is planning to launch a sterilization campaign with the goal of rendering 700,000 men, or about one seventh of the male population, infertile within three years.

The government claims that the “family planning” program, which will also invite men to undergo circumcision, is voluntary. “We included circumcision because it allows us get to the men’s reproductive system and in the process we advise them on condom use and vasectomy,” Health Minister Dr. Richard Sezibera told the New Times.

The average Rwandan woman bears five children in her lifetime – a number that has been deemed too high by international population control groups.

Steven W. Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute (PRI), expressed outrage Friday at the program, which is being carried out under the active influence of at least two USAID-funded special interest groups: Intrahealth and Family Health International.

Mosher pointed to the deceptive role of the country’s previous “circumcision campaigns,” touted as a supposed means of preventing HIV/AIDS, in earlier years. In 2008, health officials informed the BBC that such campaigns would be practiced first on “the new born and young men in universities, the army and police.” The BBC reported that while many Rwandans balk at the idea of being sterilized, “correspondents say many in the armed forces will regard it as an order” even though it will be “nominally voluntary.”

“This amounts to coercion,” said Mosher.  “First of all, saying that circumcision ‘protects against AIDS’ is an abuse of semantics, as circumcision doesn’t provide a barrier against anything.  Secondly, if it will be regarded as an order, it doesn’t matter if it actually is one or not.  The men will be circumcised/sterilized because they feel that they must, or risk punitive measures.”

These programs are not being rolled out by the Rwandan government alone, but represent a concerted push by the U.S. government and international health groups. Intrahealth proudly advertises that it is conducting surveys of men who have received vasectomies already, and will use “lessons learned to inform recommendations regarding the scale-up of vasectomy services in other districts as requested by the Maternal and Child Health Task Force of the Ministry of Health.”

Family Health International, on the other hand, is “supporting the Rwandan MOH to increase access to quality vasectomy services in Rwanda” by training local physicians.

“The Rwandan government claims that it wants men to ‘go willingly’ for sterilization,” said Mosher.  “But they also have a hard quota – 700,000 – which they are looking to fill.  In our experience on this issue, every single time a sterilization campaign has a hard target and a timetable attached to it, it inevitably involves coercion and abusive expansion, just as night follows day.”

Mosher pointed out that the groups are funded by USAID, which receives tax dollars from the United States. Under U.S. law it is illegal for taxpayer dollars to be spent funding forced abortion or sterilization.

Mosher said that PRI would “do everything in its power” to expose and halt the use of U.S. taxpayer funds on this campaign, and urged the Rwandan government to end the “dangerous” campaign before it begins.

“The unforseen consequences on the Rwandan family and economy will be far-reaching, and the suffering is too much to ask of an already-traumatized population who deserve every chance to heal,” he said.