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.

www.dailymail.co.uk

- 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.'
November 27 2012, category: International NEWS
Source: UNITED NATIONS

Campaigners against female circumcision scored a major victory Monday with the approval by a key U.N. committee of a resolution calling for a global ban on female genital mutilation.
The resolution, adopted by consensus by the U.N. General Assembly's human rights committee, calls the practice harmful and a serious threat to the psychological, sexual and reproductive health of women and girls.

It calls on the U.N.'s 193 member states to condemn the practice, known as FGM, and launch education campaigns for girls and boys, women and men, to eliminate it. It also urges all countries to enact and enforce legislation to prohibit FGM, to protect women and girls "from this form of violence," and to end impunity for violators.

With 110 sponsors, the resolution is virtually certain to be approved by the full General Assembly, which is expected to take it up in the second half of December. Although not legally binding, assembly resolutions reflect international concerns and carry moral and political weight.

Italy's U.N. Ambassador Cesare Maria Ragaglini, who has been working with African partners for a ban, called the resolution "a breakthrough in the international campaign to end the harmful practice of FGM."

"I think that together we can change the fate of many young girls around the world, and today this goal appears closer than ever," he said. "The resolution, in condemning the practice and promoting social and educational programs, is ... the beginning of a new journey."

The centuries-old practice stems from beliefs that FGM controls women's sexuality, enhances fertility, or is required by religious belief – although both Muslim and Christian leaders have spoken out against it.

The procedure involves the removal of a girl's clitoris and sometimes also other genital parts, usually in childhood or early adolescence. Critics say it can lead to painful sexual intercourse, complications in childbirth, and eliminates any pleasure for women during sex.

The U.N. said in 2010 that about 70 million girls and women had undergone the procedure, and the World Health Organization said about 6,000 girls were circumcised every day.
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