RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Thursday expressed horror over the 1,000 penis amputations that he said occur each year in the country due to a lack of basic hygiene, a figure he called “ridiculous and sad.”
Speaking with reporters in Brasilia after visiting the Education Ministry, the former army captain despaired at the high number of amputations and said his government must work with vulnerable men to make them more aware of the dangers of unhygienic behavior.
“In Brazil, we have 1,000 penis amputations a year due to a lack of water and soap,” he said. “We have to find a way to get out of the bottom of this hole.”
Bolsonaro did not specify the source of the number. The Brazilian urology society was quoted as giving that number in an article in a local news magazine in 2017.
The Brazilian urology society did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
In a video of Bolsonaro’s speech, it is clear the amputations cause him great distress. Bolsonaro is celebrated by his supporters for being a man’s man, but he has also sparked outrage with years of racist and homophobic comments.
He once told a female lawmaker she was too ugly to rape, and said the birth of his daughter, after siring four sons, was a “moment of weakness.”
It is not the first time he has waded into sensitive topics.
In March, he made global headlines after tweeting a video showing one man urinating on another during Brazil’s massive annual street carnival.
“What is a golden shower?” Bolsonaro tweeted the day after posting the video, in which a barely dressed partygoer writhes atop a bus shelter, plays with his behind, and then bends over before another man urinates on his head.
Critics say Bolsonaro’s often-incendiary tweets show he is more focused on riling his progressive critics than building consensus in Congress for necessary reforms, such as an overhaul of the country’s budget-busting pension system.