Clitoraid: 2nd humanitarian clitoral restorative surgical mission in Kenya

February 20 2019, category: Press Releases
San Francisco, CA - February 20 The U.S. based humanitarian organization, Clitoraid is launching its 2nd clitoral restorative surgical mission in Nairobi, Kenya, March 4 - 14, 2019 to help the victims of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) regain their dignity and sexual pleasure thanks to a technique developed by a French urologist.

“According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 25% of the Kenyan female population has endured the horrific tradition of genital cutting though the practice is now illegal in Kenya” explains Nadine Gary, Clitoraid Director of Operations.

The WHO estimates that 125 million women worldwide have had their genitals forcibly mutilated as babies or when they were toddlers or possibly as teenagers. This practice grossly violates the UNICEF Convention on the Right of the Child.

Clitoraid volunteer head-surgeon, Dr. Marci Bowers of San Francisco, USA, will co-lead the clitoral restorative medical procedure in partnership with Kenyan Dr. Adan Abdullahi affiliated with the Kenyan NGO, Garana.

“They will be assisted by local Kenyan doctors as well as MD’s from the US, Canada and Australia” says Gary.

Close to 100 FGM survivors, including women from Tanzania, Sudan and The Gambia are scheduled for surgery during the two week, humanitarian endeavor that will take place at Dr. Abdullahi’s clinic in Nairobi” informs Gary.

“Since 2009, Clitoraid has provided clitoral restorative surgery (CRS) to over 500 genitally mutilated women mostly in the U.S. where more than half a million FGM survivors currently reside according the Center for Disease Control” says Gary. “We have also operated in Kenya and in Burkina Faso, West Africa where our hospital dedicated to FGM victims awaits opening”

The creation of Clitoraid was inspired by International spiritual leader, Raël, a relentless defender of human rights and women’s rights. The innate right to sexual health and fulfillment has been a core value to the Raelian philosophy for nearly half a century and is now advocated by the World Health Organization as a basic human right.

“Society must rid itself of sexual shame and guilt disseminated by archaic patriarchal religions both tribal and mainstream that are especially abusive and demeaning to women.” states Gary “ Repressing their sexuality has been a powerful ploy to control and subdue them for centuries”.

Gary concludes: “Today, with education, women are realizing that the traditions and cultures that violate their sexual integrity and their sexual freedom also violate their dignity as women”.

Clitoraid Statement on Judge's Decision in Michigan Case

January 07 2019, category: Press Releases
The members of Clitoraid are outraged with US District Judge Bernard Friedman’s decision to render unconstitutional the US federal law banning FGM or Cutting (FGM/C). Clitoraid, a charitable US organization inspired by International Spiritual leader Rael, has been offering clitoral restorative surgery to over 500 survivors of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) since 2009.

"We demand that Judge Bernard Friedman’s decision be overturned and that the federal law ban all Genital Mutilation (GM) in children regardless of gender'" says Nadine Gary, Clitoraid Director of operations.

Children genital mutilation is a serious human rights violation and a form of child abuse. It has a life-long health and psychological consequences and must both be apprehended at the federal and state levels.

The Michigan case is significant because it uncovers two disturbing legal outcomes concerning the protection of children against genital mutilation in the US.

Firstly, FGM is being downgraded to a legislation solely regulated by individual states instead of a uniform federal protection because according to Judge Friedman FGM is a 'local criminal activity'. It is to be noted that over 500,000 FGM victims currently reside in the US according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

"Yet, the lack of federal legislation would incite perpetrators to cross state borders and freely seek a safe haven or a lesser punishment to practice their crime. Currently, 23 US states have yet to criminalize FGM." warns Gary.

Secondly, Dr. Jumana Nagarwala who forced genital cutting on little girls in the Michigan Livonia clinic testified to only performing a "minor nick" . Her statement causes male circumcision to be legally challenged. See thorough analysis of Brian Earp, Associate Director of the Yale University program on Health and Ethics policy and Research Fellow at the university of Oxford.

Dr. Nagarwala's act violated the current Federal law title 18 U.S.C. §§ 2, 116, and 371 pertaining to Female Genital Mutilation which reads: "whoever knowingly circumcises, excises, or infibulates the whole or any part of the labia majora or labia minora or clitoris of another person who has not attained the age of 18 years shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both".

"So, if a 'minor nick' on girls genitals constitutes a violation which Judge Friedman characterizes as “criminal assault” but the cutting of the entire foreskin of boys' genitals is not, then the above law is in dire need of being rewritten to protect all children". points out Gary.

In the US, 81% of the male population is victim of genital cutting according to the CDC.

Concerning the Michigan case, the Clitoraid members therefore declare: Genital Mutilation is a violation of the bodily and sexual integrity of children and must be punished to the full extent of the federal law regardless of the gender of children.

See Brian Earp full analysis in favor of a law banning Genital Mutilation regardless of gender

"Restore my clitoris!" Kenyan FGM survivors claim their womanhood on woman's day and everyday!

March 07 2018, category: Press Releases
Nairobi, March 7, 18 - On Women's Day, women around the world stand up for gender equality, denounce sexual violence and celebrate their womanhood. Kenyan women are no exception. Today, thousands of Kenyan sexually mutilated women are demanding the proper restoration of their anatomy and their duly right to experience orgasm without shame and guilt.

The second annual Kenyan humanitarian mission to restore the clitoris of FGM victims is set to take place from July 22 to Aug 04 in Nairobi. It is a collaborative effort between two dedicated NGOs: Clitoraid, based in the US and its Kenyan counterpart, Pink Plus Garana.

According to a 2013 UNICEF report, a quarter of all Kenyan women are victims of the barbaric custom of FGM, also known as “cutting" informs Nairobi based Dr. Adan Abdullahi, head of Garana. "we are humbled that the medical community is finally able to offer a surgical solution to women facing a lifetime of pain and suffering caused by FGM".

The upcoming humanitarian mission is being launched amidst the #metoo worldwide movement denouncing sexual violence against women.

"FGM survivors are truly the apex of sexual assault" deplores Clitoraid's surgeon, Dr. Marci Bowers of San Francisco, USA "It is sad to say that in this case, it is mostly women who inflict sexual torture on the girls in their community by dismembering their genitals".

Dr. Abdulahi adds: "Recently, ​Nairobi​ Doctor Tatu Kamau filed a lawsuit to reverse the​ Kenyan​ ban on FGM​​ in adult women by arguing that adult women should be able to do whatever they want with their bodies".

Both doctors agree that adults are free to treat their body as they please though they ponder how women’s sexual pleasure can be so repressed that some women would choose to cut off their "​Allah given" healthy clitoris, ​ie. ​the most pleasurable part of their anatomy, to make them honorable members of the community.

"Sexual education is key for women to fully embrace their innate womanhood in Kenya and around the world" says ​Bowers.

Both Dr. Bowers and Abdullahi will volunteer their surgical skills to reconstruct the clitoris of patients suffering from FGM in Nairobi this summer. ​45​ women were restored last year.

The Story of My Life after FGM: A Dedication to the Most Excellent Surgeon in the World.

September 04 2017, category: International NEWS
The following story was submitted by a Clitoraid patient who wished us to publish it while keeping her identity private.
She is dedicating it to Dr. Adan Abdullahi of Nairobi, Kenya who offers clitoroplasty to FGM victims following Clitoraid's humanitarian mission in Kenya last Spring. During the two-week event, lead US surgeon, Dr. Marci Bowers trained several Kenyan doctors.

This is the story of my life and it is dedicated to the best surgeon in the whole world. I underwent Female Genital Mutilation at the age of ten and back then I was exhilarated by the rite because it marked my passage into womanhood. Later on, I came to learn that I was subjected to Type I FGM.I underwent the rite with a cousin of mine and there were lots of celebrations that were marked by singing, dancing and eating among other festivities. The circumcision occurred at around three in the morning. I tried to scream because of the sharp pain that I felt between my legs but my screams were in vain because they drowned in the ululations of the older women that were present to witness the ceremony. I bled so much till I thought that I was going to die because of over bleeding. The initiator tried to manage the heavy bleeding with some herbal remedies and it took two days for the heavy bleeding to subside. It took three weeks for us to recover from the initiation.

I joined high school at the age of fourteen and that is when reality dawned on me that the FGM had destroyed the most precious treasure of my womanhood. My best friend in high school came from a community that did not carry out FGM and one day she asked me whether I was circumcised and I denied it because I was not comfortable with discussions concerning FGM. Her question made me to feel inferior to the other girls that were not circumcised. Additionally, one of the stories that stood out for me in the Literature syllabus during my high school years was Saida Herzi’s short story “Against the pleasure principle”. In the short story, Hawa, a circumcised woman says that “When people found out where I was from…they pestered me with questions about female circumcision. To avoid their questions, I told them that I had not been circumcised and therefore, could not tell them anything about it .Evidently, Hawa was embarrassed in her life because of the FGM. This story made me to detest the practice of circumcision and I swore never to do it on my daughters once I became a parent. I surely could not understand why parents were subjecting their daughters to the act including the educated ones. Reading testimonies from various circumcised women in the short story made me to believe that I was not going to enjoy sex in my life because part of the clitoris had been cut.

I must confess that the short story made me to experience some sort of self-fulfillment prophecy in respect to sexual matters. I read the story many times and it shaped my beliefs concerning sex. To elaborate, Herzi writes that “She (Hawa) remembered the first time her husband made love to her, how horribly painful it had been. And it had continued to be painful for even after she got used to it. She knew that for most of the women in her society sex as something to be endured not enjoyed.” This part of the story demoralized me and it made me to believe that I did not have any chances of being sexually aroused. Even before I started being sexually active I and the mindset that I was never going to know how it feels to have pleasurable sensations in my life. I identified with Hawa and sympathized with her because I knew what she had gone through.

I made friends from various communities at the university and even after graduation and most of them asked me whether I had faced the cut because it is common knowledge that my community is notorious for the practice. I lied to all my friends that I did not go through it because I wanted to avoid their questions and sympathy as far as the rite was concerned. Nevertheless, I could not lie to myself because I knew that I was circumcised and I did not have the power of the capacity to reverse it .It was a scar that was indelible thus lying to my friends could not help it. The idea of being circumcised really bothered me after I become sexually active because at the back of my mind I kept thinking that I was missing something significant to live a sexually fulfilling life. I only got consolation after reading about the vaginal organism which for me was a perfect alternative since part of my clitoris had been mutilated.

Taking showers has always been a difficult moment in my life because during such times I spend a significant amount time looking at myself and it makes me wonder how I would have felt if my clitoris was still intact. Furthermore, through the years, I have consoled myself by reading testimonies of FGM victims that experience orgasm. At some point I read a blog about the part of the clitoris that lies beneath the skin that makes it possible for women to experience orgasm. So I felt comforted after reading the blog because I understood that after all, not all my clitoris was removed. I must admit that my consciousness concerning the FGM has affected my psychological wellbeing that is why I have never discussed it with my hubby. I was scared about talking about it with him because doing so, in my view, would be equivalent to admitting that I am an “incomplete woman”. It is painful memory that I tried to avoid by all means and pretend that it never happened in my life.

Just when I was convinced that I was going to live with the FGM scar for the rest of my life, I saw on national television that Dr. Marci Bowers, of Clitoraid, was conducting clitoral reconstructive surgeries in Nairobi for the first time at the Karen Hospital. This was the best news that I had heard in my entire life. It was the first time that I was hearing about the clitoroplasty .The news was brief so I searched on the internet to increase my understanding of the procedure that reverses FGM. The news caught my attention because I am very sensitive to FGM issues. I told myself that I was going to go through the procedure no matter what. I tried to make time so that I could book an appointment with Dr. Marci Bowers but I did not manage because of work commitments. I did not lose hope though because I was referred to Dr. Adan Abdullahi who offers the Clitoral Reconstruction Services at the Karen Hospital.

During my initial consultation, I could not bring myself to tell him that I am an FGM survivor and it was then that I realized that I was traumatized by this whole thing of being circumcised. I only managed to tell him “I underwent FGM and I want you to reconstruct my clitoris”. He conducted a physical examination and after completing he told me “sorry”. For me his “sorry” meant that I was going to be alright. I was relieved somehow because I knew that there was someone who understood me at that moment and my pain. Subsequently, we set the date for my surgery which took place three weeks after the consultation.

Prior to the surgery, I experienced a roller-coaster of emotions. I was scared about going under the knife because it was the first surgery in my life not to mention that I am scared of injections. I was so inquisitive and asked him a lot of questions before I made the final decision of going through with the procedure. He answered all my questions comprehensively and above all he was so patient with me because of my anxiety. I just want to say that Dr. Adan Abdullahi is the single most patient, professional, understanding, excellent and kindest doctor I have ever seen in my life.

He is the first person that I told my story about FGM and he lent me listening ear without judging me. He understood me just like I wanted to be understood.All that FGM survivors require is a doctor that will listen to them and give them the assurance that they will get better. Another thing that scared me are articles that cite opponents of clitoroplasty that dispute the effectiveness of the procedure. These arguments made me to think that the procedure would end up frustrating me even more. However, I conducted additional research on the internet about women that have reported improved sexual lives after the procedure. This research together with Dr. Adan’s responses convinced me that the Clitoral Reconstruction Surgery was a procedure to die for.

On the D-day, I did not take anything in the morning because the doctor reminded me that I was not supposed to take anything prior to the surgery. I work up six and was set for the procedure that was going to mark the greatest milestone in my life. The team that works alongside Dr. Adan is amazing and it made me to realize that there was no need to be ashamed about my condition. The nurses were supportive, understanding and they made sure that I was warm and comfortable because it was a chilly Saturday. The assistant surgeon prepared me psychologically about the entire procedure .Subsequently, the anesthetist carried out the anesthesia procedure that numbed the lower half of my body so that I could not feel any pain during the surgery. I have never felt at home like I felt on the day of my surgery and I had never seen such kindness in my life.

After the anesthesia, the doctor commenced the surgery. At the background some rhumba music was playing and the clock on the wall was ticking slowly. I was awake throughout the procedure and after about 45 minutes the doctor told me “I am done.” At that moment, it became clear that anything can happen in less one hour, even a reversal of FGM could happen without any pain. I was reborn on that day.The reconstruction surgery entailed removing the scar tissue associated with FGM and bringing the remaining clitoral forward. After the surgery, I felt a sense of relief and told myself that I had finally managed to see light at the end of the dark tunnel. I was moved to the ward where I recovered after two hours and went home. It gave me the closure that I need to overcome the emotional torture that I have experienced for many years in my life.

Throughout my recovery, the doctor supported me and he never stopped answering all my queries even after the surgery. I visited the doctor for reviews and he confirmed that my recovery was impressive. This support has been instrumental in changing my attitude and perspective about life. Today, I have recovered fully and I look forward to living a normal life just like the other uncircumcised women.

I just want to reach out to other women out there who could be traumatized as a result of FGM. Just know that there is hope after FGM thus you should not lose hope of being fulfilled in sexual matters because the Clitoral Reconstructive Surgery reverses the effects of FGM. More important, remember that the fact that FGM is reversible does not mean that we should stop campaigning against this inhumane act that strips off women their dignity and right to sexually fulfilling life .Please let us discourage parents from circumcising their daughters in secret because it is not worth it. It is time to let go this outdated tradition. Let us be at the forefront in preaching against this inhumane act in our communities because it is no longer relevant in the lives of women. Today, I can hold my head high because my dignity was restored.

I am complete again and I believe that the hands of surgeons that restore dignity in the lives of FGM survivors are blessed. I hope that someday, even the poorest FGM survivors will get the opportunity to go through this life changing procedure that I consider to be the most supreme invention in the world of the FGM survivors. When that day comes, FGM will be a thing of the past. Above all Clitoraid is the best organization that has happened for the FGM victims. All in all, the clitoroplasty has been a life-changing procedure in my whole life and am optimistic my dreams will come true.

Work Cited: Herzi, Saida. "Against the pleasure principle."
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