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VICE: “A Prayer For Uganda” / “Kidneyville”

by Jef Dinsmore
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Overview: Virulent homophobia is on the rise in Uganda. In 2014, the Ugandan president signed into law an anti-homosexuality bill, which went as far as mandating the death penalty for being gay. After an international VICE_PrayerforU-300x208outcry, the law was struck down, but a new version is in the works. Isobel Yeung went to Uganda to meet some of the anti-gay leaders teaching intolerance to Uganda’s youth, and uncovered disturbing ties between their message and the lessons that American fundamentalists have been pushing for years.

There are more than 100,000 people in dire need of a kidney transplant in the U.S., and more than 4,000 could die this year while languishing on waiting lists. But for those willing to turn to the black market, a trip to the slums of Bangladesh might get them just about any organ they need. Vikram Gandhi went to Dhaka to explore the thriving illegal market for kidneys, and to see why so many of the country’s poor are willing to take such a drastic step for the cash they need.


ExpectationsNeither of these issues are anything new it is all in how they are presented. In fact, I think I am beginning to think it is VICE’s goal to call out every government and society on this sphere that wields cruel treatment towards gays. Needless to say human rights are being violated here and Isobel will get to the bottom of it. As for the other topic it reminds me of what I thought was a very definitive expose on the body parts black market, TALES FROM THE ORGAN TRADE. I am interested on Vikram’s take on the on the whole situation.


Gut Reaction: The first segment takes to the heart of Africa in “A Prayer For Uganda” by correspondent Isobel Yeung. Listen, I realize there are people out there with strong negative opinions regarding same-sex marriages and the gay lifestyle. I get it. But the bottom line is that they are humans before they are anything else. Ugandans are human beings with human rights. The level of brainwashing the government and religious clergy lay down on the children of that country is atrocious. The mindset of killing the gay men and raping the lesbians to remind them of the kind of sex they should be wanting will just perpetuate through the generations. Isobel was openly affected and appalled and so should she and the viewer be.VICE_Uganda-300x168

But, you know what adds to the ire of the whole situation? The nasty, and often false, rhetoric shouted out in the name of Jesus is because of USA Fundamental Christians storming into the African countryside with their agenda. One knowledgeable person interviewed nailed it on the head when he stated that these types of clergy are in the minority in America so they come over to Africa as missionaries to find a eager audience. As long as you can rally them up with good old Gospel truth before you warn them of the sinners among us.

It is an incredible and infuriating segment to watch. Youngsters are being taught the explicit sexual behaviors of gays distorted in a way that does make them sound vile in the way they describe them. Plays are even performed about the supposed debauchery. Okay, warn about unprotected sex, caution about sexual activity of any kind until you are older and mature. Ban public affection and cruising areas if they exist, but to endorse and permit the lawless rape and murder of fellow humans is fucked up. Sorry, but the evil people here are the religious at the extreme right end of the spectrum and the poor officials of Uganda whom they brainwashed.

No use beating that drum any longer so we move on to “Kidneyville” by correspondent Vikram Gandhi. Gandhi frames this segment with a look into the life of a young American girl and her battle with kidney failure and her desperate need for new functional renal organs. It is just a reminder that the need for such organs is very real. And then he is off into the heart of the black market in Bangladesh were there are whole villages populated with people with only one kidney on one side and a telling scar on the other. Out of desperation on the lower end of the equation are people who sell the only body part they can get away with selling without losing their life.

VICE_Kidneyville02-300x170It is a vicious and scary cycle of life to be in and yet people in these Kidneyvilles face it daily. And Vikram seems so calm as people skirt around the truths and easily broker deals at the drop of a dime. Well, actually $6,000 as that is the sum that Vikram negotiates via a broker for a man’s kidney in a deal. He was seated across from a man who was willing to sell just like that. Of course, our correspondent never returned with the money. Now we all know there are poor places in the world and we all know that desperate times call for desperate measures to use the cliché, but what has driven the poorest of the poor to sell kidneys? Yes, you can survive with only one, but these people are not in the best medical care in the world.

Once again, here is another incident of the USA aiding in a global problem. Do you get the theme here that America meddles into issues that just look great to the Western thought but hurts or exploits someone else? I didn’t see this angle coming at all nor did I even fully understand what it entails, but this whole notion of micro-financing is aiding in the Bangladeshis life changing decisions. We in western society have touted this economic program as a way to end global poverty, but if I followed that report correctly, all it is doing is putting the poor deeper into financial distress to the point of selling a life-giving organ to someone who will pay handsomely for it. Meanwhile, our young lady back here is going through twice daily dialysis at home.

There is got to be a more legal & safe way for a global database and transport of vital and usable organs around the world. People die every day on this sphere. When does this fierce black market trade come to a stop? We are left to ponder.


In Conclusion: What can we say? A lot of damage has been done in Uganda both to homosexuals and to the youth of the country. A new regime and/or a stronger human rights advocacy group needs to establish a presence there. That could start to turn around the issue. Black market trading of anything from a shark’s fin to a tiger’s penis to a human’s kidney will always exist unless the demand for them diminishes. It doesn’t sound likely, but let’s see what Vikram thinks in his Debrief.   



Next Week: VICE is off for two weeks. Season 3 Episode 11 of VICE debuts FRIDAY, JUNE 05 at 11:00pm. The installment looks at the continued Ebola Outbreak in Africa and the cover-up of sexual assaults on American campuses. Until then – Peace.

Find Episode # 31 here.

Find Episode # 33 here

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1 comment

Ivonto December 6, 2015 - 10:11 am

Selling a kidney


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