Clitoraid hospital to open in Bobo Dioulasso, Burkina Faso in 2012

10月 02 2011, カテゴリー: International NEWS
Every year around three million girls are genitally mutilated in the world. This old cruel tradition lives on even though it’s prohibited by law in most countries, including Burkina Faso. Plenty of efforts are done world-wide to put an end to this practice. One of the most remarkable initiatives may be the Clitoraid foundation that not just works to end the mutilations, but offers a way to undo the mutilation, at least physically, by repairing the clitoris.

By the end of 2012 Clitoraid plans to open a first hospital where they will offer surgery for free to victims of genital mutilation. The hospital goes under the name “The Pleasure Hospital”. The demand for this service is huge and increases as the word spreads. At the time of this writing, a year before the opening, Clitoraid has more than 400 women in Africa on their waiting list and yet another 30 in the US.

Several operations have already been performed and Banemanie, a woman in her fifties living in Burkina Faso, was one of the first to go through with the surgery.
“I was delighted when I heard about this operation and that it is possible to repair the clitoris. I urge the circumcised women all over the world and of all ages to get in contact and sign up to do the surgery. One woman told me she couldn’t see the point of the surgery as she’s fifty. It’s sad to hear things like that because I don’t think it matters what age you are. It is never too late”, says Banemanie. Today she is one of many Clitoraid-volunteers and also one of the foundations spokespersons. As a spokesperson she also shares her story online, to encourage other women and show that they are not alone with their experiences.
In a video on Clitoraid’s website she shares her story of that horrible day when she was 13. One afternoon when she got back home four elderly women were waiting for her near the lavatories by her house. The women grabbed her, forced her down on the ground and held in her arms and legs. One of them held the knife. “I've never screamed so much in my life. You can’t imagine the pain. Even when I talk about it today, I get tears in my eyes. Afterwards it kept bleeding a lot, it was dripping blood everywhere”, she says. But the pain did not end with this. Banemanie lost a lot blood and it took two months before the wound had healed, and as often in the case of female genital mutilation, severe scars remained.

350 EUR for an operation

The surgery for repairing genitally mutilated women was developed by a French surgeon more than 20 years ago. The surgery removes scar tissue and exposes the stump of the clitoris. The clitoris is in fact between six to ten centimetres long and mostly tucked in deep inside a woman's genitalia. The surgery aims at uncovering some of the clitoral tissue remaining after the circumcision hidden by the overlying skin. There are several types of circumcision affecting not only the clitoris but other parts of the victims’ genitalia. The surgery focuses on repairing the clitoris and freeing the vaginal opening if it was sown together as a result of the circumcision.
The operation costs about 350 EUR (500 USD), which unfortunately is an insurmountable sum for most people in Burkina Faso, as well as in many other African countries.
It must be clarified that 350 EUR (500 USD) is the current cost charged by non-affiliated Clitoraid doctors in Burkina Faso.  Once Clitoraid’s hospital is finished, these surgeries will be offered free of charge or at a minimal cost. Understandably, if the surgery is performed in Europe or the United States, the cost is much even higher for patients travelling from Africa due to steep western medical fees combined with accommodation and traveling.

First hospital to open by the end 2012

The construction of the “Pleasure Hospital” began in May 2007, in the town of Bobo-Dioulasso. The hospital’s official name is however “Kamkasso hospital”, which means “women's house”. The authorities in Bobo-Dioulasso didn’t agree on such a daring name as the “Pleasure Hospital", thereof this slight name-confusion.
Clitoraid has so far managed to raise enough funds to erect the building. Bricks have been laid by volunteers and some equipment has been donated from hospitals around the globe. The hospital will not only serve to do genital surgery, but will serve as general clinic for the area.
"Today we are confident that we can have the hospital ready for the women by mid 2012 as a few donators are now coming forward to help us finish it and have it operational for our trained international surgeons", explains Brigitte Boisselier, president of Clitoraid.
"One hospital in Burkina Faso may seem like a drop in the ocean in comparison to the millions of women in need of the surgery, but the idea is to open up more clinics around the world."
"We don't want to limit ourselves to the Kamkasso hospital, once this unit is operational and we have learned how to run it best, we want to reproduce it in all the regions where women have been mutilated and are hoping to know one day what it is to be whole again".

FACTS / Genital mutilation

According to the WHO about three million women are circumcised each year. That means that more than 8,000 girls are subjected to genital mutilation every day. It is estimated to be between 130 and 150 million genitally mutilated women in the world.
Female Genital Mutilation is often abbreviated to FGM.
WHO has classified four types or degrees of FGM:

  • Partial or total removal of the clitoris and / or clitoral prepuce(clitoridotomy).
  • Partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia, with or without excision (cutting away) of the outer labia(excision).
  • Reduction of the vaginal opening by creating a seal in that the cutting and joining the inner and / or outer labia, with or without excision of the clitoris(infibulation).
  • All other harmful procedures on the female genitalia for non-medical reasons, such as cracking, chopping, scraping and burning.

Kenny Stolpe
Journalist and Web Communications Consultant

Associated Press Article: Female circumcision victims seek out Colorado doctor

8月 27 2010, カテゴリー: International NEWS
CATHERINE TSAI, Associated Press Writer

TRINIDAD, Colo. (AP) — This picturesque southern Colorado town known for decades as the sex-change capital of the world — thousands of gender-reassignment operations have been performed here — is becoming a beacon for victims of female genital mutilation.

Dr. Marci Bowers has performed about two dozen reconstructive surgeries on mostly African born women victimized as children by the culturally driven practice of female circumcision. Bowers is believed to be one of the few U.S. doctors performing the operation.

Bowers, who underwent a gender reassignment operation in the 1990s at age 40, said she relates to what her mutilation patients describe as a loss of identity, of not feeling whole.

"It took me so long to get there in my own life. I know what the feeling is like, seeking my own identity," she said.

Massah, a patient who grew up in a village in Sierra Leone and now lives in Australia, said the surgery "is like giving us a second life. Actually it's starting to live."

Wearing a blue-and-white striped shirt, dark blue pants and sneakers to her pre-surgery exam, Massah asked that her full name not be used because she hasn't told most friends and even family that she was having the surgery, or that she was circumcised as a girl in Africa.

She paid a $1,700 hospital fee, plus lodging and travel expenses for the surgery last month.

"I will spend my whole life savings," she said, "even if it's for one minute of feeling complete."

The World Health Organization estimates 100 million to 140 million girls and women worldwide have been circumcised.

Cultural, religious and social factors have helped keep the practice alive among those who believe it will reduce promiscuity and take away sexual pleasure or desire. The World Health Assembly passed a resolution in 2008 urging an end to the custom.

The restorative surgery practice in this town of 9,500 people near the New Mexico border began in early 2009.

Last month, at a guest house a short drive from Bowers' office, Massah and six other patients talked late into the night, sharing stories that they'd found difficult to voice even with best friends. All requested not to be identified.

One 37-year-old woman from Richmond, Va., was circumcised as an infant in Nigeria and realized in college during a biology class that she didn't look like her textbook diagrams. She said she would still like to ask her mother why.

"Why did you allow it to happen? What were you trying to prevent?"

Massah said she was circumcised at age 11 by a village woman. She was with about a half dozen of her sisters and cousins.

She was placed before the woman and was held down before being cut with what she thinks was a razor. She still remembers her screams.

"Nightmarish," she said.

She has felt ashamed, incomplete and apprehensive toward sex, she said.

"It's embarrassing going for Pap smears," Massah said haltingly, trying not to cry. "Just the look on people's faces."

She said she was hoping for "wholeness" from the surgery. A week into her recovery, she said she felt "ecstatic."

"Some people get another chance in life through organ transplant, but for me, this is it," she said.

Bowers learned her techniques for operating on FGM victims with a French surgeon, who performs the procedure in France.

Typically, patients have not had the entire clitoris removed, Bowers said, and the surgery exposes what remains, uses remaining tissue to reconstruct labia that may have been cut away, and clears scar tissue.

She said the surgery typically results in improvement in sensation as well as cosmetic benefits.

Bowers hopes to form a teaching program so other doctors can serve FGM victims.

"Somewhere, at some point, women have got to hold hands and say, 'No, no more. We're not going to do this anymore,'" she said.

Bowers' patients pay their own hospital fees and travel and lodging expenses, unless an insurer agrees to cover the hospital fee. Bowers donates her services.

Just how long that will continue here is uncertain. Bowers has announced plans to move to California this fall, and Mt. San Rafael Hospital where she operates says it has no immediate plans to add a new gender reassignment surgeon. That would be a big change for Trinidad, where Bowers' mentor, the late Dr. Stanley Biber, performed more than 5,000 sex change surgeries over more than 30 years.

Attitudes toward female circumcision are changing, the women patients said.

But, said Massah, "It's changing, but too slow. It's going to take a lot of generations."

Iman, a mother from the Twin Cities area in Minnesota who was circumcised, is grateful for Bowers and the chance to talk with other patients who underwent FGM.

"I left all that baggage at the guest house, all the things that tormented me," she said. "Imagine dealing with your worst demons and then meeting six other people who are dealing with the exact same issues you are. Then you get to leave all your baggage there, with no judgment."

Unlike other women who were blindfolded and cut in village ceremonies, with drumming and singing in the background, Iman was excised at age 12 in Kenya, in a doctor's office.

She had localized anesthesia. "I remember everything," she said. "My mom was there. I don't blame her because she did what was done for her. It was a rite of passage."

Later, she was taken to her grandmother, who checked whether the doctor had done a good job, she said.

After her grandmother died, her mother didn't take her three younger sisters to be circumcised. "I give her credit for that," she said. "It stopped with me."



Associated Press

Betty Dodson Answering Critics of Clitoraid

4月 16 2010, カテゴリー: International NEWS

Betty A. Dodson

In 1990, I was invited to speak at a conference titled: “Say Yes to Masturbation”. It was in Montreal Canada sponsored by the Raelians, a world-wide organization who follows their prophet Rael. He claims to have been contacted by extra terrestrials, or ET’s. Sort of like Moses receiving a message from God through a burning bush, or Buddha receiving enlightenment while sitting under a tree. Who’s to say these things are impossible, although I tend to lean in that direction.

At the time, my webmaster Grant, always the suspicious academic, said I’d be crazy to deal with “kooks” who believed in flying saucers. Friends worried I’d be kidnapped by this cult and flown off in a saucer never to be heard from again. (I had a few sexual fantasies with that one). Others thought it would discredit my already difficult message about the beneficial aspects of masturbation. In twenty years of dealing with the explosive topic of self-induced orgasms, no one had ever invited me to a conference that endorsed masturbation, so naturally I accepted.

I explained that although I was not a true believer in ET’s, part of me hoped it might be true. As yet, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism or any other creation myths had never acknowledged the humble activity of masturbation— except one. In ancient Egypt, the popular religion was based on masturbation and was commemorated in a daily ritual that took place in the Karnak temples built over 4000 years ago: at dawn every morning, priests and priestesses re-enacted masturbation at the shrine of Amun Ra. They believed Amun created the world with his self-induced orgasm. Christianity’s creation myth had God creating the world in seven days.

When I first met Rael over lunch, I liked him immediately. I was charmed by his relaxed manner with all things sexual. His followers were also comfortable with the subject of sexual pleasures. At one point I teased Rael about setting up a meeting so I too could meet a few ET’s and visit a flying saucer. He explained he had no way to contact them directly and I chided him: “Oh, so you’re not like the Catholics who can go through a priest to reach God”? Rael claimed the Elohim, the plural form of the Hebrew word for God, are ET’s who created us. They want him to build an embassy so they can safely land and communicate with us. So far there is way too much violence on planet Earth. We can all agree on the importance of reducing violence. Obviously more sexual expression would help people honor all living things starting with the human body— the opposite of body loathing and waging wars with killing machines like America is doing.

The conference was in French. They had an instant translation of what I was saying to a large audience wearing head phones, just like the UN. The Raelians are hated and feared by many and have received death threats, so we each had a body guard. Mine was a big handsome kid I wanted to bring home with me. They are also loved by many others the world over.

Several years ago, I was contacted by Sylvie, a lovely French Canadian Raelian who was working on Clitoraid. When I discovered their mission was to help African women who had their clitorises removed, I wanted to know more. When she claimed these women could experience orgasm again through a surgical procedure followed by learning to masturbate, I said “Yes” to Clitoraid. Later I began to wonder if the operation really did work or was it simply cosmetic by eliminating excessive scar tissue. A French surgeon, in Africa who was performing the surgeries was difficult to reach. Before I was able to contact him, my masturbation information was already on Clitoraid’s website. Whether this was a scam or real, I believe in copyleft. That means anyone can use my information as long as it’s attributed to me.

When the French surgeon taught his surgical technique to Dr. Marcie Bowers, a Colorado surgeon working with the transgendered community, it was easy to contact her. After we spoke on the phone, I was convinced this was the real thing. Dr. Bowers said the operations success depended on a woman’s age, amount of scaring, how much of the clitoral stem remained, and the success of her post-op recovery. The physical therapy depended upon a woman’s motivation to massage her vulva and practice masturbation. During all the years I’ve taught women about orgasm, the part about practicing masturbation is essential. Western women the world over have been sexually damaged through negative messages from organized religions that instill genital shame. Many are unable to accept their vulvas as normal or beautiful. Added to this is a lack of sex education and information which leads to unwanted pregnancies, sexual abuse, and lack of orgasms. These women have been genitally mutilated psychologically.

I knew that a battery operated vibrator would be a great help for African women the same as they have helped my demographic of women. My business partner Carlin and I agreed that Good Vibrations would be a good choice to donate vibrators, so I contacted Carol Queen. In no time there was a shit storm on her end. An African American academic feminist teaching at San Francisco University objected to our interference in a culture that we supposedly know nothing about. Good Vibrations pulled out. The store depends upon the good will of a community that has its share of nit picking academic sex negative feminists. Since dodsonandross is a website we have all the freedom in the world to do and say what we choose. It’s called freedom of speech!

Something to be concerned about is a Pope who pays large sums of money to cover up his own priest’s sexual abuse of young boys. So far Clitoraid has demonstrated that some women can be restored through surgery. Meanwhile, I continue to share my information in person or on our website to all women who have been damaged through organized religions. The first prize for religious cults goes to Muslims with Catholics next. Third prize goes to Fundamentalists with other Protestant cults falling in behind. Honestly, I’d prefer ET’s to these other religious cults. At least ET’s would be more advanced in their thinking.

Trinidad Surgeon Helps Women Escape Past of Mutilation

3月 23 2010, カテゴリー: International NEWS

Bowers hugs Meite on Monday before Meite's reconstructive surgery. Bowers donates her skills and has an agreement with Trinidad's Mount San Rafael Hospital to use its facilities for $1,500 per patient.

Dr. Marci Bowers slipped into a chair in Exam Room 3, folded one long leg over another, looked at her patient — a young woman with wide eyes and a nervous smile — and got to the point.

"We want to help make your life better," Bowers said.

Mariama is as tiny as the 5-foot-10-inch Bowers is formidable, as soft-spoken as Bowers is confident. Mariama speaks softly and smiles easily, but a few hours with her make clear that her determination is as strong as it is quiet.

She is 26 and lives with her husband and daughter in Virginia, and didn't want her last name used. Originally, she is from Guinea, a country about the size of Oregon on Africa's western coast. Guinea has about 10 million residents, and about
96 percent of the women there have, like Mariama, been genitally mutilated.

Mariama and the six other women, all originally from Africa, crowding Dr. Bowers' tiny Trinidad clinic have traveled a long way to get that fixed. The women have come to this former coal-mining town in southern Colorado looking for more than just reconstructive surgery. They want relief from pain. They are looking for a chance, as one put it, to be normal.

Kady Meite from the Ivory Coast in Trinidad, Colorado. (Korene Gallegos)

"I want to be like everyone else," said Kady Meite, the only one of the women who agreed to have her full name used. "Now, I feel nothing. I feel pain" during sex, she said.

The World Health Organization estimates that 100 million to 140 million women worldwide, but especially in northern and central Africa, have endured female genital mutilation, or FGM.

Usually done to girls before age 15, the practice involves at least slicing off part or all of the exposed clitoris. In some cultures, the cutting is more extensive, and disfiguring. It's done occasionally by health care practitioners but most often by an older female relative.

A lot of people inflict the damage. Bowers, whose clinic is known around the world as a destination for those seeking gender-changing surgery, is one of a few trained to surgically restore the clitoris, as well as repair other damage.

Since 2003 when she took over the work of Trinidad's pioneering sex-change surgeon, Dr. Stanley Biber, Bowers' practice has exploded to more than 200 of the surgeries a year, and there is a waiting list of patients. Bowers certainly didn't need more to do.

Nevertheless, she went to France a little over a year ago to learn a reconstructive technique developed by Dr. Pierre Foldes, which essentially cuts away scar tissue and surrounding skin to expose whatever is left of the clitoris.

In many cases the procedure also requires more extensive reconstruction.

The women gathered in her office last week are the second group Bowers has performed the reparative surgery for; both times she has donated her services.

Kady Meite, 43, originally from the Ivory Coast in West Africa, speaks with Dr. Marci Bowers before going through a female genital mutilation reversal surgery in Trinidad.

Because the procedure is new and rare, insurance seldom covers it. But Trinidad's Mount San Rafael Hospital has agreed to a flat rate of $1,500 per patient for use of one of its two operating rooms.

Like most of the women in Bowers' clinic, Meite had no idea repair was possible until she learned about Bowers on the Internet. "I said, 'Oh, my God. I don't believe it.' "

Meite is 43. She has been married 22 years and has four children. She would like, after all this time, for sex with her husband, Mustapha, not to hurt.

Betrayal of trust

As Bowers made her way from exam room to exam room Monday, a theme began to emerge as each patient recounted her story: A young girl would visit some trusted female relative in a different town or a distant village. One day during that visit, she would be taken somewhere. Someone would hold her down, and a knife would appear.

"We went on a vacation to visit my aunt," Mariama said, describing her experience. "Then one day, she took me and her granddaughter — my cousin — to a different village. It was like there was going to be a party or a big ceremony. They were cooking food."

Mariama remembers being taken outside into the bush, where "a lady had a small knife." They forced her to the dirt. "I think they didn't want to get blood on a blanket."

She remembers being sliced three times. "The knife was not sharp enough. It hurt so much, I thought I was dying. I screamed so loud one lady physically was sitting on my face" to muffle the screams.

It took two months for the pain and bleeding to stop. In the meantime, the wound became infected, and Mariama got sick with a fever.

She was 8 years old.

When Mariama asked her mother why this happened, her mother explained that it was their culture.

The custom is most closely associated with Islam. Newsweek has reported that Dr. Foldes has received death threats as a result of his surgeries. Still, the women who have come to Trinidad don't believe they are doing anything contrary to the Muslim faith.

"There is nothing written in the Koran saying you need to do that," Meite said.

Growing up in Guinea and the Ivory Coast, Mariama and Meite watched girls who were not cut be ostracized, whispered about, called "unclean."

It wasn't until she came to the United States, as the bride of a Guinea-born chemist, that she learned that in many places what happened to her was not acceptable, or even legal.

The first time she was examined by a doctor in the U.S. — who had never heard of FGM — "his face was like he had seen a ghost," Mariama said.

When she gave birth to their daughter, it had to be by cesarean section; nurses couldn't even insert a catheter, she said.

Her daughter, now 5, has never been to Guinea, and she never will, Mariama said.

"I refuse to go back. I won't let them near my daughter."

A path toward healing

After they met with Bowers and filled out paperwork at the hospital, the women went to their rooms at the Morning After Guest House.

Typically, the Morning After is a haven for those who have come to Trinidad for sex-change surgery. But this week, it had been reserved for the women.

The night before the surgeries, that guest house was a bustling, noisy place. The television on, the radio was blaring, exotic smells wafted from the kitchen as owner Carol Cometto threw a dinner for them.

The women come as a group for pragmatic reasons — Bowers blocks out time for surgery, the guest house is reserved.

But there is another less tangible benefit to the mass scheduling. As the evening proceeded, the women got acquainted, and for many, it was the first time they met others who faced the same traumas and made the same decision to seek healing.

Eventually, a woman in a plaid schoolgirl miniskirt, fishnet stockings, boots and a fur-trimmed white jacket walked in, carrying a large box of vibrators.

"Tonight I get to play Santa Claus," Nadine Gary said.

Gary is with the organization Clitoraid, which she describes as working toward twin goals of "ending FGM worldwide and to help as many victims as possible through surgery."

To fully help them, Gary believes, means more than just ending the women's pain. It also means beginning their pleasure.

Female genitalia is "just like any part of body that has been cut," Gary said. "You need physical therapy so it starts to work again. The nerve paths need to be reactivated so they reach the brain."

If that notion was a bit much for a group of women whose childhood lessons taught that sex may be enjoyable for men but a source of pain for women, they didn't say anything.

Early Tuesday morning, while darkness still clung to Trinidad, a car pulled up outside the guest house, for the first of four trips that day to the hillside hospital.

The surgeries took little more than an hour each, and by 3 p.m. four women were back at the guest house, sore and resting.

Wednesday, the process was repeated with the remaining three.

Bowers had prepared them for some post-op pain, but that didn't deter them.

Meite, who said she has converted to Christianity, believes "God has a purpose for everything." Now, she said, she has found the answer to why this happened to her.

"Now, I have found someone who can help me, and so I can help a lot of other women."

Karen Auge: 303-954-1733 or メール

ページに進んで下さい   <<        >>