Clitoraid surgeries thwarted by Burkina Faso’s revocation of doctors’ licenses

3月 13 2014, カテゴリー: プレスリリース
LAS VEGAS, March 14 - Medical licenses previously granted to the American medical staff of Clitoraid, a nonprofit organization that helps victims of female genital mutilation obtain clitoral repair surgery, have been revoked in Burkina Faso due to “blatant discrimination against the Raelian Movement,” according to a statement released today by Clitoraid.

“Although granted earlier with no problem, our doctors’ licenses were revoked after they had completed just one week of operations,” said Dr. Brigitte Boisselier, president of Clitoraid and spokesperson for the Raelian Movement. “We couldn’t open our new, fully-equipped Kamkaso Hospital last week after the health minister refused to sign promised documents. That was bad enough, but our doctors were able to operate at another hospital. This latest blow, revoking their licenses for what the health ministry called ‘undisclosed irregularities,’ confirms there is organized discrimination against us.”

The existence of such discrimination was confirmed by Mr. Sebgo, health minister himself, Boisselier said.

He told the Thompson Reuters Foundation news agency: "Medical organisations should be focused on saving lives and not advertising their religion in an attempt to convert vulnerable people." Boisselier remarks: “In a country that hosts Christian and Muslim hospitals, that statement is highly discriminatory. It’s also absurd. Although inspired by Rael, spiritual leader of the Raelian Movement, Clitoraid is entirely independent from the Movement. And we would never proselytize in a hospital. Women who come to us seeking medical services and support, which is what our professional medical staff provides. The religious affiliations of our medical team members are varied as well as irrelevant. We often don’t even know what they are.”

She said the Clitoraid team was also upset to learn that Burkina Faso’s minister of female affairs, Madame Nestorine Sangare, had made the comment, “To live without the clitoris isn’t the end of the world.”

“When a woman bleeds to death from being cut, that is indeed the end of her world,” Boisselier said. “And when she suffers intolerable pain with each sexual encounter, that too is the end of the world, since no one should have to live in pain to satisfy an ancestral custom. Or even worse, that she should have to continue living with that pain merely because those who offer to stop it are members of a religious minority."

Boisselier praised Clitoraid’s volunteer surgeons and other medical staff.
“Despite the turmoil following their arrival, we’re extremely grateful that such highly trained professionals volunteered to care for those seeking our help,” Boisselier said. “They successfully operated on 29 women during the week their licenses were still valid, and they also trained a Burkinabe surgeon to do the procedure. So the other 50 women scheduled for surgery with us will still be able to have it.”
Other women saw their hopes for the free repair surgery vanish when the American volunteer surgeons lost their right to operate in Burkina Faso.
“It was heartbreaking,” Boisselier said. “Two women came all the way from Senegal, with one in constant pain. We hope the newly trained surgeon can operate on her.”
Clitoraid and the AVFE association (Clitoraid’s local partner) have engaged a law firm to deal with the defamation allegations and matters of denied or revoked licenses.

“The discriminatory aspects will also be added to our pending file at the United Nations Rapporteur on Human Rights and Religious Discrimination,” Boisselier said. “That file lists the many cases of discrimination suffered by the Raelian Movement in French-speaking countries.”

Clitoraid organizes demonstrations in front of Burkina Faso Embassies around the world on March 7, 2014

3月 08 2014, カテゴリー: プレスリリース
Vancouver, Canada
By David Dunsmore

After hearing the appalling actions by the Catholic Church and  Burkinabe Government to stop the opening of the Clitoraid hospital in Burkina Faso therefore denying some eighty women the free right to have their dignity and sexuality returned to them,the Vancouver Raelian's demonstrated out front of the Burkinabe Consulate in Vancouver.
After hand delivering a letter at the consulate, we notified them that we will be protesting at their front door for a few hours with signs and handing out pamphlets informing the public.

 ALL the people in the streets were very supportive of our actions, most people were not surprised to hear once again... more negative actions by the Catholic Church and denouncing the freedom and rights of women to have sexual freedom.
We handed out all our pamphlets, many people came to us after seeing the sign and thanked us for standing up and being there.

Rome, Italy
By Antonietta Tuzzi, head of Clitoraid in Italy

Nine of us met at the Burkina Faso Embassy in Rome, all of Raelian faith and active for many years in fundraising venues to help fund Clitoraid's hospital in Burkina Faso.
Our group was led by Antonietta Tuzzi, Head of Clitoraid in Italy.  Ms Tuzzi had met the First Lady of Burkina Faso, Mrs. Chantal Campaore at an international symposium on FGM in Rome last year and was eager to meet with ambassador about this matter that goes against everything the First Lady has been fighting for to eradicate FGM in her country.

Our protest started promptly at 10:30am and ended at noon as agreed with the authorities.
Police officers kindly supervised our event. They first prevented us from approaching the embassy contrary to what was originally agreed with them but they later allowed us to get closer.
We held our poster and give out many flyers explaining our protest.
Then,  the police commissioner escorted Ms. Tuzzi inside the embassy to deliver the letter to the ambassador who was expecting her. She explained to him the nature of our protest and handed him the letter.

Toronto, Canada
By Patrick Rhein, Clitoraid Representative in Toronto

In Toronto, on Friday March 7, a small group of four Toronto residents , Diane Brisebois, Louise Turcotte, Gisèle Gagné and Patrick Rhein faced the cold weather in front of the Burkina Faso consulate to change the negative influences that have created some challenges in that country.
We distributed numerous flyers during two hours around lunch time. Some people were interested and supported our cause. They said that what we were doing was important and many were curious to go and visit our website to find out more about our hospital.
Just before we left, I brought our letter to the consul but he was unavailable to discuss in details so Mrs. Diane Brisebois- Henning, the wife of Dr. Henning,  will set up an appointment to see him in the upcoming week and hopefully get his support to reverse the discriminatory  decision of the BF government. Dr. Henning is one of the two volunteer surgeons who flew to Burkina Faso to operate on FGM women.  Yesterday, Dr. Henning saw his temporary licence to practice medicine in Burkina Faso suddenly revoked by the Board of Doctors of that country. Their reason? "irregularities in their file that was not detected earlier". The three other US volunteer doctors were prevented from practicing medicine in BF in the same way. Mrs Brisebois-Henning will have much to discuss with the consul next week.
It was great to be in action for this wonderful cause and I am sure that all the seeds we are planting are creating a ripple effect of awareness and change on the planet.

By Nadia Salois

30 people marched early this morning in front of the building where the Burkina Faso consulate is located.

Daniel Turcotte, Modjé and I met Attorney Gérard Coulombe, the honorary consul in person. Thanks to the lobbying of Gabriel Bluteau, we were able to obtain a personal appointment with him. Our meeting lasted 30 minutes. Attorney Coulombe, was surprised of what happened, as he was aware of this reality about the excision and didn't understand why his government was preventing our hospital from opening. He also knew personally the First Lady who has been directly involved for many years in the mission of helping women victims of FGM. In fact, Mrs. Chantal Compaore was in Montreal in 2008, giving many conferences about that subject and Mr. Coulombe met her at that time. He does not understand why she declined the invitation to preside at the opening of the hospital. He has the intention of finding out.

He told us he will contact the actual ambassador in Ottawa, and Mrs Juliette Bonkourgou (ex-embassador of Burkina Faso in Ottawa). She is back in Burkina Faso and apparently has big political influence.

Attorney Coulombe will communicate with Modjé following his research. He is a very nice man who is well informed about the African culture. He also asked us to keep him posted on the development of our project.

Ottawa, Canada
By Helen Munger, Event Coordinator

We went to protest outside the Burkina Faso Embassy in Ottawa, Canada. There were 10 of us, playful and happy to be there for our African sisters. For years, many of us gave countless hours of our time to organize and collect donations for the opening of this wonderful hospital that repairs the harm done to thousands of women who don’t have the means to regain their integrity and their dignity at no charge.

Armed with a firm conviction, this is the very reason why – as representatives of the Canadian capital – Mr. Rolland Gaudette and myself went to meet with the ambassador.

The Embassy hadn’t responded to our written request for an interview with the ambassador but as we arrived at the event, the Canadian Republican Guard police officer told us that our request had been granted. It was interesting to see how everything unfolded. We were left standing at the entrance until the ambassador came down to meet us. There were a dozen people around him, including two people who filmed us throughout the interview. Two women were standing at the far end of the corridor watching us too.
The ambassador explained that certain steps needed to be taken before issuing a license and that, in no way, did it have anything to do with religious discrimination. He told us that his government was doing everything it can to stop FGM. We felt a certain discomfort on the part of the ambassador. On the other hand, the other men around him expressed very warm smiles. When our representatives left, they were accompanied by one of their counselors who told us that the government had never done anything to impede on Raelians and their activities. He said he was pleased with our approach and that it was going to help them.

Once back in the street, a passerby came to us to learn more and asked many questions. She is a University student in international relations. A photographer with the newspaper Ottawa Citizen took many pictures and told us there was a story on FGM that was under way and they would include us in the story.

Brussels, Belgium
By Marie Helene Trigalet, leader of Clitoraid Belgium.

There were 9 of us at the protest expressing our indignation on the ban against the opening of the Pleasure Hospital.
The team made an encouraging contact and spoke with a Burkinabe individual. As for me, I made it inside the embassy. I had an appointment scheduled with Mrs. Narré, representative of the ambassador. I was very kindly greeted and I handed a folder on Clitoraid, the letter to the ambassador and two copies of the press release.
The secretary of the ambassador was surprised and expressed her regret for what happened in her country. She was astonished to learn that it was under pressure from Catholics because circumcision is a custom practiced predominantly in sub-Saharan Muslim communities. If the ambassador had not been traveling she would have granted me an interview with him. Mission accomplished!

Thanks to all those who were present and for coming all this way to support and defend women’s rights. The struggle for human rights is far from over. On this first day of Women's Day this is another example of how we must remain vigilant.
I love this quote: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." Edmund Burke. So let us arm ourselves with love and the desire for the Good to triumph.

Introduction by Mariella Cossu, leader of Clitoraid France

The Clitoraid French team and the Raelian Movement came together to raise awareness at the Burkina Faso Embassy in Paris and five Burkinabe Consulates in different regions of the Hexagon to show their dissatisfaction with the prohibition of opening of the Kamkaso Pleasure Hospital built by CLITORAID in Bobo Dioulasso.

Thus, 15 demonstrators, some of whom came from the West of France, personally delivered a formal letter to the Ambassador’s assistants in Paris. Fliers were distributed and someone with ties to the Vatican Ambassador in France was also present and was shocked to learn that the refusal to open the hospital was caused by the Catholic Church. He promised he would write to the Holy See ....

For other regions in France, the same letter was handed out at Consulates in Nice, Marseille, Lyon and Bordeaux.

A call to action was also sent to all our regional mailing lists that counts several thousand supporters and Raelians asking them to write to the Embassy and different Consulates to accelerate the process of the hospital’s opening.

On the lobbying front, several celebrities were contacted by Françoise Delcoustal on behalf of Clitoraid. And speaking of personality, Miss Princess Loona who has very good relations with the famous humorist Dieudonné went to inform him of this event and as you can imagine he was not at all surprised by the opposition.

Of course, social networking was also a venue and the news was also broadcasted on Facebook in the Rhône Alpes region, see photos.

So, overall it was a successful action on this historic day of March 7, which celebrated the opening of the first hospital specialized in clitoral reconstruction spurred by a wonderful idea of Maitreya Rael.

Critics did not believe it, but one thing for sure is that they were able to see that we keep our promises and we are reliable when it comes to improving humanity’s living conditions.

Rotterdam, Holland
By Monica Marcucci

On the 7th of March a member of my team delivered the letter at the Honorary Consulate of Burkina Faso in Rotterdam (even if it has not been possible to speak directly with the Consul).

La Vega, Dominican Republic
By Kundaliny Diaz Rojas, D.R head of Clitoraid

Our team decided to organize a demonstration in our city though no Burkina Faso embassy nor Consulate are present on our island. We distributed 1,000 flyers informing the public of Burkina Faso and the Catholic church stopping Clitoraid from opening its Pleasure Hospital in Bobo Dioulasso.

Letter of protest delivered to Burkina Faso Embassies around the world

3月 08 2014, カテゴリー: 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.

Patients awaiting surgery to hold protest demanding official opening of world’s first hospital for clitoral restoration

3月 07 2014, カテゴリー: プレスリリース
Las Vegas, March 6, 2014 - According to a statement released this morning by Clitoraid, the public is invited to the inauguration of its Kamkaso hospital building. A press conference will be held after the ceremony, which will take place on Friday March 7 at 10 a.m.

"Although the inauguration of the hospital itself was scheduled to take place in Bobo Dioulasso, Burkina Faso, on Friday March 7, we experienced a setback and we still cannot do operations there,” said Dr. Brigitte Boisselier, president of Clitoraid. “The Ministry of Health has refused to grant us a license because the Raelian Movement initiated this humanitarian project. Strong discriminatory pressure has been brought against the hospital because of that.

Boisselier added that despite this "reprehensible impediment,” the first 29 patients have already had the clitoral repair surgery they were awaiting.

“Thanks to the excellent organization of Dr. Da Sié Benoit, director of Clitoraid/AVFE’s medical center, our two American volunteer surgeons, Dr. Marci Bowers and Dr. Harold Henning Jr., were able to operate at another nearby clinic without any delays,” Boisselier explained. "Furthermore, their training of a Burkinabe surgeon has already begun, and he will soon be able to perform the surgery on genitally mutilated women from the region so they can benefit from this reconstructive surgery."

Boisselier said Drs. Bowers and Henning, who use the surgical technique developed by a French surgeon, Pierre Foldes, will be in Bobo-Dioulasso for two weeks.

“By the end of their stay, a total of 80 patients will have had the operation free of charge,” she said. “The volunteer medical team also includes two anesthesiologists and a nurse. Our volunteers have different spiritual backgrounds but are united by the same desire to help this humanitarian mission that is dear to their hearts."

Boisselier said that since Clitoraid didn’t know how local communities would react to the undertaking, they anticipated running into some opposition.

“But we never suspected we would have to deal with his intransigent Burkinabe government refusing to issue a license,” she said. "Ironically, Burkina Faso’s First Lady, Mrs. Chantal Compaore, is known worldwide for her fight against female genital mutilation!"

Boisselier said the two American surgeons were deeply touched by "the strong will of the women who came, some from thousands of miles away, to regain their sense of female dignity and right to sexual pleasure.”

“Asserting their right to have the clitoral repair surgical procedure at the Komkaso Hospital, these women are organizing a protest for Tuesday, March 11, to denounce the government's refusal to allow this facility to open its doors,” Boisselier said. “The women are furious because this facility was built specifically for them and now it is unable to open for operations."

After the upcoming building inauguration ceremony, visitors will be able to take a guided tour of our medical center.

“People will be able to see for themselves how beautifully operational our new facility is,” Boisselier said. “And they will also see how senseless it is that this wonderful hospital cannot immediately open its doors to patients."

Boisselier said the upcoming ceremony will conclude with a press conference, which she will hold along with Banemanie Traore, President of AVFE, Clitoraid's Burkinabe and American doctors, and a resident from Bobo, Ms. Fatima Diarra, a victim of FGM whose clitoral reconstructive surgery is scheduled to take place on the following day.
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