The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) has announced that vaccination against the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) will now be mandatory for all Singaporean women of childbearing age. HPV is typically transmitted through sexual contact, and some strains cause cervical cancer. While the HPV vaccine is usually used as protection against cervical cancer, MSF spokesperson Jill Low said the new policy is meant to raise Singapore’s total fertility rate (TFR).
“Protection against cervical cancer is important, but that’s a concern for the Health Ministry,” she stated. “We realised that there was a hole in our efforts to boost Singapore’s birth-rate, and we’re confident this policy will help people to fill that hole.”
While Low was quick to say MSF was not stepping on the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) turf, she credited them with inspiring the move. “This wasn’t something we’d have thought of by ourselves. But when we were reading people’s responses to MOH’s new opt-in programme, we saw a lot of parents saying they’d refuse to get their kids vaccinated because they didn’t want to give the go-ahead for sex,” she explained. “So we thought, hold on, if getting vaccinated makes people have sex, then we should just vaccinate everyone. This is really a triumph for creative, Whole-of-Government policymaking based on input from the public – at least, that’s what we’re writing on the department performance assessment exercise.”
Other stakeholders, however, were less bullish. “These rookies think it’s so easy to get people horny,” snorted Wah Mai Fuk, a 20-year veteran of the former Social Development Unit (SDU, now known as Social Development Network). “We’ve tried everything. Baby bonuses, flavoured condoms, altering the NUS orientation programme. At best, there’s no improvement; at worst, we’ve actively turned people off,” he sighed. “I remember the debacle when we tried to target the churchgoing population with Sun Ho’s music videos – is it any wonder they all believe in abstinence before marriage? I’d be traumatised too, if that were my exposure to skimpy clothing.”
Some parents took the opposite view, expressing fears that the HPV vaccine would turn their children into raging sex machines. Harminder Johnson, who has two daughters, is considering emigration to avoid the policy. “I wanted to raise my daughters in Singapore because of how hard it is to have sex here,” she explained. “There’s no space, everyone lives with their parents, nobody has a car for illicit trysts, people are too stressed from school or work to just unwind, and there’s so much social stigma around pre-marital sex. I really thought we’d found the most sex-negative place possible, and the birth-rates supported that.”
“But,” she continued, “this policy ruins everything. Once my daughters are vaccinated, they’ll probably spend more time at school in the handicapped toilets than in the classroom. I mean, once they get a foreign substance injected into them, how can they possibly resist getting more foreign substances injected into them? It’s a disaster. I’d rather they risk cancer than have an open conversation with them about how sex can be part of a fulfilling and healthy romantic relationship.”
At press time, MSF announced a temporary halt to the new policy pending further review. Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee denied that this had anything to do with a new petition titled “Ban sex – it’s the only sure way to avoid HPV” that gained 17,000 signatures in the past few hours. The usual suspects applauded the move.