Cervical cancer: easily preventable. And yet we keep failing.

We have a vaccine that could have already eliminated the vast majority of cervical, anal, and head-and-neck cancers in New Zealand. Yet hundreds of our people continue to die every year…needlessly.

What is standing in our way? Religious extremism and misogyny. Fear and power.

Fear built up by manipulative religious leaders. These men literally want to keep the power to decide whether women will live or die.

Stone-age beliefs stay with us even now. Just look at modern religious fundamentalism and the antivaxx movement. Logic is a human tendency, sure — but so is paranoia and magical thinking. We are never too far away from witch-burning, hero-worship, and flat-Earthers.

Ignorance and stupidity will always be with us, but we can’t let these few people drag the rest of society down. They’re certainly trying to. And winning. Every year 50 women die from cervical cancer. Those deaths can be prevented — we’ve been able to vaccinate against cervical cancer for more than a decade. But we’ve missed the chance. Our vaccination rates are low. Everyone 9-26 should be getting the vaccine, but tens of thousands of Kiwis are not.

So 20 years from now, our daughters will still be dying of cervical cancers that were preventable. This should infuriate us as a society, knowing we could have prevented young women dying with a cheap vaccine, but didn’t.

The cervical cancer vaccine does not cause girls to be promiscuous, it just prevents them from dying of cervical cancer.

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