October 31 2015, category: International NEWS
Dr. Marci Bowers, Clitoraid's volunteer surgeon was the keynote speaker at the Walk to End FGM in Washington DC, Saturday Oct 31 hosted by the Global Women P.E.A.C.E. Foundation . In the past eight year, Dr. Bowers, a renowned gender reassignment surgeon in San Francisco, CA has been surgically restoring the clitoris of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) victims both in the US and in Burkina Faso, Africa. Here is the content of her address

An End to FGM in Our Lifetime

I am incredibly honored to be here as your speaker today. When I say honored, I do so sincerely because I am an outsider, an onlooker, a woman of privilege, a surgeon, an activist, a western educated caucasion woman. And yet you have invited me and I am truly humbled. I uniquely value my own womanhood---because it also came with struggle, if you know anything about my personal history--- and so, I suppose, it gives me special purpose to address this problem of FGM.

As a gynecologist and physician who has spent the past 25 years in women’s healthcare, I have been fortunate to have acquired additional surgical skills that allow me to create genitalia for transgender men and women. In my practice near
San Francisco, we--- literally--- deconstruct and reconstruct genitalia for this unique transgender population. So it was not surprising that in 2007, when Nadine Gary, the International Director of Clitoraid, approached me to learn a reconstructive
technique being performed and pioneered in Paris by Dr. Pierre Foldes----to restore clitoral sensation ----not simply defibulation but sensation----for women who had been genitally mutilated, I had no hesitation.

Civil rights activist Rosa Parks said, “never be fearful about what you are doing when what you are doing is right”. I knew immediately that this was right. I heard about threats to Dr. Foldes but had no fear. I heard about backlash, scorn, and skepticism from colleagues ----but was not afraid.

I was certain that a chance to restore sexual feeling for FGM survivors was important. I knew that the victims of FGM could not be happy with reduced or absent sexual sensation. I could see the misery from victims who had suffered painful sexual encounter after painful sexual encounter-----wanting to but unable to enjoy. I cared for the complications of FGM: the bladder infections, the cysts of trapped fluids, the obstructed labors. In Paris, I met a girl whose identical twin sister had died at 8 years old----while undergoing FGM together.

And I knew of the lies of the cutters who benefitted economically by cutting, who knew the lies of FGM---but kept on cutting because cutting fed the families, ironically, of the cutters. I came to understand the celebration of FGM---as a ritual, as a coming of age, as tradition.

But also I came to appreciate the sense of sexual pleasure as one of the basic human senses----as important as sight, smell, hearing, taste or touch. Imagine if there were a surgery invented to restore sight to a blind man or smell to a girl who had never smelt a rose or the aroma of a sautéed onion. I agreed that FGM was indeed a human rights violation. There was no question----human rights had been and were being taken from these women and girls----directly as a result of FGM.

When I reviewed Dr. Foldes’ so-called ‘clitoroplasty’ and came to Paris to view the surgery itself, I knew instantly that it had validity. The surgery worked! The clitoris was not removed fully in FGM----it can’t be. Never. Why? Because the clitoris is much larger than any of us had ever been told---even gynecologists.

The damage caused by FGM----among so many damages---was the obscuring of the clitoris by scar tissue. But the clitoris was large----like an iceberg, I thought---and so was merely buried beneath scar tissue as a primary result of FGM. In reconstruction, we ALWAYS find the clitoris. It is always there. Always.

So the surgery is designed to expose what remains of the clitoris, to free it of scar tissue and to bring it to the surface of the skin.Later, when I spoke to women who had been reconstructed by dr. Foldes and later, myself, they had feeling….down there. Sometimes it was scary. Sometimes, there were other issues that surfaced. Occasionally, the surgery did not work as planned. But many reported orgasm for the first time ---in their lives. The surgery worked. It was not a perfect surgery but it worked. There were risks of surgery but it worked.

Overwhelmingly. It worked. And in 2013 when Dr. Foldes published his study in the British journal, Lancet---of nearly 3000 women who had been reconstructed, the scientific community had proof that it worked. Moreover, the reconstructive surgery
that we and others now perform around the world----is done free of charge. In many cases, we are also able to get insurance coverage. So the surgery gives hope to victims. It gives us control over identities that feel lost, over bodies that seem
incomplete, over relationships that could not flourish.

But surgery is not the answer. Surgery should not be the answer. Surgery should not be necessary. Surgery can never fully regain what has been lost. By FGM.And so, what I hope to do in these short words, is to construct an approach, to inspire a plan, to stimulate optimism that will result in an end to FGM in our lifetimes.

And I truly do believe, by the survivors who speak out, by the cutters who no longer cut, by the men who value the sexuality of their wives and lovers, by the parents who say no, by the media companies and news organization who continue to report our stories despite editors who say “too touchy”, “too controversial”, “too likely to offend” or , simply, “no”---that we are nearing an end to FGM.

And for that reason, for so many reasons, I know that what I am doing is right. And that for all of us to do what we are doing here today…that this gathering of amazing people …..is right.

I have no fear. WE have no fear. WE are standing up against FGM. WE are talking about FGM. By doing so, WE are taking action against FGM. WE are doing what is right.

I will conclude by saying that going forward what is needed is for us to further tell our stories. Poet Maya Angelou wrote, “there is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you”. Tell your stories. Educate the world. Teach these doctors
who, when encountering an FGM victim, call to their colleagues as though FGM bodies were rare, circus animals to be gawked over. Teach them that there are surgeries to correct this problem and that there is training available to learn how to
fix this problem. And that these doctors need to recognize this problem, be educated about this problem and address this problem with certainty and with calm.

Secondly, we need to talk to our parents and our relatives here and where FGM is still being practiced. We need to be honest about our experiences, about our pain, about our loss, about our fears----so that slowly, surely, cutters will no longer cut. Respect the tradition but reject the practice of FGM.

And I will leave you with the words of Eleanor Roosevelt who once said, “You must [finally] do the thing you think you cannot do”.
March 08 2014, category: International NEWS
The following letter was delivered to Burkina Faso Embassies and Consulates around the world while legal actions have began against those who pressured the BF Government to take such discriminatory and inhumane measures. Hundreds of FGM victims plan demonstrations in Burkina Faso next week since the Health Minister proceeded to also revoke the temporarily licence of all four US volunteer doctors who had traveled to Burkina Faso to operate on the first 80 patients on our waiting list. Though our hospital was prevented from opening, they had already operated on 29 patients in a licensed clinic near by and planned on continuing their humanitarian mission next week.

Dear Honorable Ambassador,

We come to the doorstep of your embassy today to express our indignation about the outrageous decision of the Burkinabe government not to grant permission for a fully operational medical center dedicated to clitoral repair to open its doors in Bobo Dioulasso on March 7, 2014.

The main function of the humanitarian Kamkaso medical center, which is sponsored by the American NGO Clitoraid, is to provide clitoral restoration surgery for all genitally mutilated women who wish to have that procedure done at no cost.

The first application requesting permission for the creation and opening of the center was filed in 2011 and was then declared lost by the Burkinabe Health Ministry Service. Following the loss of the first dossier, the regional branch of the Health Ministry Service requested that AVFE resubmit a new application in February 2014; all the required documents were submitted and the dossier took its normal course and reached the office of the Health Minister. Representatives of the Health Ministry nevertheless assured representatives of the AVFE women’s association, Clitoraid’s partner in Burkina
Faso, that the setback caused by the loss of the file would in no way interfere with the hospital opening, and that it would be possible for us to launch operations there on March 7.

However, on February 27, Burkina Faso’s first lady, Chantal Compaore, cancelled her participation in the March 7 inauguration. On that same day, the Health Minister prohibited us from launching the scheduled opening and refused to tell us when the authorization would be granted. These events occurred just two days after an influential doctor who is a member of a powerful Catholic organization in Burkina Faso wrote an extremely defamatory letter where he announced that the Ministry of Health and the Governor had been beseeched in order to prevent the opening of the center, simply because of Clitoraid’s affiliation with the Raelian Movement.

We are convinced that the government of Burkina Faso does not want to join the list of countries practicing religious discrimination, and that it will want to resolve this situation quickly so that the hundreds of women who have registered to receive the free surgical repairs can benefit from that procedure as soon as possible. Our waiting list also includes 12 women from other African countries.

It goes without saying that Burkina Faso is a leader in the fight against the scourge of female genital mutilation, or FGM. (It is also known as excision). Therefore, to have a medical center dedicated to providing free surgical repairs for women currently suffering the consequences of FGM seems like a logical progression for the country.

Yet, today, after just such a hospital has already been built – thanks to donations from thousands of people of all faiths from around the world – it remains vacant, even though it is fully equipped and operational. It remains vacant because the person who came up with the idea of building this humanitarian medical center happens to be the spiritual leader of an internationally recognized philosophical movement, one that has thousands of members in Burkina Faso.

Our right to religious freedom is thus being disrespected and violated. Clitoraid’s volunteer doctors have had to begin the operations at a sister clinic in Bobo Dioulasso. Eighty women had already arrived in the city to have the surgery, and they were appalled to learn that the government had caved in to such pressure. Dozens of journalists were on-site witnesses, and the Clitoraid volunteers who show up in front of your embassy today will not relent until the discrimination they are experiencing is completely and unconditionally lifted and operations are allowed to begin at the world’s only medical center dedicated to FGM victims.

We hope the Burkinabe government will hear our plea through your services and that its discriminatory decision to disallow the hospital opening will be reversed quickly, so that there will be no need for us to appeal to an international court.

With my utmost respect,

Brigitte Boisselier, PhD

President of Clitoraid
Spokesperson for the International Raelian Movement.
November 28 2013, category: International NEWS
Tuesday, November 19, as part of the campaign "I love my body , I love my rights", held at the Université Laval in Quebec City, a conference was organized by the Committee Amnesty International of the Faculty of Law. The organizers chose the still taboo theme excision, a subject that is not spoken of, but yet leaves millions of women and girls injured for life.

They invited André Gaumond, Raelian filmmaker, to present his film "Excision , an evil that still hurts" and Aminata and Habibata, two young African women who have undergone female circumcision, to share their experiences. It was an emotional evening.

First, Andre's film reveals a facet of excision that is not visible, the horror lived by
 these women who are circumcised, the trauma remains throughout their life. Through the testimonies of circumcised women and doctors, the film sheds light on so many social wounds that remain in the lives of millions of women, as female circumcision is more than amputation of a small piece of flesh, it's the amputation of dignity and self-confidence.

Link to the film, click HERE

Aminata, who participated in Gaumond's documentary, experienced circumcision at the age of 6. Already affected by polio, she underwent a second handicap through excision. But just like other females both young and old, she did not speak about it, because we do not talk about circumcision. It is normal to be circumcised. It is only as an adult that Aminata realized that excision is not normal when a woman from her village could not have sex on the night of her wedding night, because of the excision. The husband could not penetrate her. They brought the gynaecologist, but he could do nothing. They even brought in the circumciser to remedy the problem. The husband was asked to penetrate her in the following day so the wound would not close. This is when Aminata realized all the evil that circumcision causes. She decided to talk, never be silent, because circumcision is not normal.

Habibata was also excised at 6 years of age. She was taken by force and they cut her clitoris with a razor blade. She cried. She bled. It was painful and pain has always remained in her body and in her heart. When she was with other young women and they were talking about sexuality, about their experiences, she could not say anything, she felt left out, because she did not know the sensations her friends were talking about. She had nothing to say. "Female circumcision is not limited to the clitoris, it also cuts something in your head, it takes away self-confidence," she said. When she learned that a technique was developed to repair the clitoris, she decided to restore her clitoris in order to witness to other circumcised women and say, "It works!". This simple decision, however, has not been so easy, everything was confused in her head. At each step, she relived her circumcision, again and again. Before the restoration of her clitoris, she first had to treat the psychological scars from the excision, but she had the courage to go through it. Then, three months after contacting Clitoraid, she went to San Francisco to meet Dr. Marci Bowers, to undergo surgery and to repair her clitoris, great hope for all circumcised women to regain their dignity!

"Although there is still a lot of social and legal work to do to counteract FGM, there is hope" it's on this note that law professor Louise Langevin, concluded the evening, as she presented the legal the developments that are occurring internationally to fight against this extreme violence done to women.
September 09 2013, category: International NEWS
Clitoraid has been offering to train UK surgeons in Clitoroplasty since the UK doctors are only performing rudimentary surgery on FGM victims at the moment which are not aimed at restoring sexual pleasure.


- 300 victims required surgery to repair damage caused by brutal ritual
- A dozen children needed medical help, including one with 'open wound'
- Experts say figures do not give the full picture of growing number of cases
- DPP says it is 'only matter of time' before prosecution is brought in UK

More than 2,100 victims of female genital mutilation have been treated in London hospitals since 2010, it emerged today.

Almost 300 women needed surgery to help them recover from the brutal ritual, new figures have revealed.

Among those treated in the capital's hospitals included 12 children, including one girl who had been left with an 'open wound' following the criminal act.

Despite being illegal in the UK, female genital mutilation is on the rise with an estimated 66,000 women dealing with the after-effects and more than 20,000 young girls thought to be at risk.

The procedure is associated with communities in Africa, particularly Mali, Somalia, Sudan and Kenya, as well as some parts of the Middle East.

Many girls living in Britain are taken to these countries for be 'cut', and some will be as young as five.

But it is becoming more prevalent in the UK and experts say today's figures are 'truly shocking' but there are 'far more victims' than the data shows.

In the majority of cases the clitoris is removed because it gives sexual pleasure.
A total of 2,115 FGM patients were seen between 2010 and now, the Evening Standard has revealed.

Dr Comfort Momoh, a specialist in dealing with these injuries at St Thomas’ Hospital, said: 'These statistics show a very significant number of women are being treated for FGM.

'But there are still lots out there who are not being identified because they don’t know where to go for help, aren’t being referred by GPs or are too scared to come forward.

'I’m really worried about girls, in particular. Where are they going to seek help? The GPs who are their first point of call often don’t have the knowledge. We also need teachers and lecturers to do more to at least signpost girls towards help.'

Nimko Ali was seven when she underwent Female Genital Mutilation in Somalia and now campaigns against it through her charity Daughters of Eve.

'For too long, it has been passed off as a "cultural" ritual. But this act is not about celebration. FGM is gender-based violence, it's as simple as that,' she said.

It came as Director of Public Keir Starmer said it was 'only a matter of time' before there is a prosecution for female genital mutilation.

'I think a prosecution is much closer now than it's been at any stage since this was made a criminal offence in this country,' he said.

'We have devised a strategy, and we have now got the intelligence-led operations that are bringing us very close to a prosecution.

'I do not think that's a failure - that is trying to grapple with a difficult problem. If it was easy there would have been a prosecution.'
Go to page       >>  


Give someone you've never met a gift they will never forget!