Victims themselves answer San Francisco Chronicle critics of Clitoraid

April 20 2010, category: Press Releases
LAS VEGAS, April 21 – The San Francisco Chronicle, through Caille Millner’s April 14 column “Wrong Approach to ending Genital Mutilation, successfully bullied the San Francisco-based store Good Vibrations to stop all fund raising activities for Clitoraid, a nonprofit organization that offers clitoral repair surgery for victims of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) both here in the United States and worldwide.

Millner and other critics following her lead have questioned the safety and validity of Clitoraid’s reconstructive surgery and expressed concerns about where the donated funds are going. And they say Clitoraid didn’t do an impact study to see how repairing the women’s genitals would affect their local communities.

In response, here is a written statement received at Clitoraid today from a woman born in West Africa. (She now lives in what she described as “a Western country.”)

“The world is now open, and it’s a very small place, with migration at its highest. People are no longer restricted to their villages, towns or countries until death. People are now exposed to other cultures. A lot of women who were circumcised [genitally mutilated] in other parts of the world now live in the West, and we now know that we’ve been violated unnecessarily. There is an awakening, a realization that sex isn’t meant to be a pleasure for the man alone and pain for the woman.

Then there’s the feeling of shame that you are somewhat deformed.

We withdraw from falling in love with [someone of] another nationality because we know the man will be looking and feeling for our clitoris during sex, and there’s embarrassment when we’re asked about our clitoris. Now even our own men prefer women with a clitoris and female orgasm since they see that as validation of their manhood and good performance.

Then we come to the medical aspect of it: childbirth, pap smears and general health checks that involve the vagina. A lot of us refuse to go for these because of the humiliation and embarrassment we face each time from the medical staff through no fault of theirs.

For me, and I guess I'll be speaking for a lot of victims, I feel like an impotent man in a heterosexual relationship.”

“It’s very clear to us at Clitoraid that the criticism we receive is mainly from individuals who don’t consider sexual activity important,” declared Dr. Brigitte Boisselier, head of Clitoraid. “That is definitely the reason why Clitoraid was started by Rael and had such a success among Raelians, since the Raelian philosophy states that having a harmonious sexual life is one of the keys to living a balanced life. A traditional religion offering charitable clitoral repair may be more palatable for Ms. Millner and many members of our society. Unfortunately, no traditional religion will ever create a charity to repair FGM victims. They stop with organizing groups that help with preventive campaigns. None will actually restore the sexual pleasure of those maimed because they all demonize women’s sexuality, sometimes to the point of grossly disfiguring women’s genitalia.”

Boisselier added, “The Raelian Movement, thanks to its pleasure-embracing philosophy, is the only religion working to restore sexual pleasure, and we will continue to do so no matter what opposition stands in our way. We owe it to the 135 million FGM victims who have no other recourse.”

Regarding the lack of scientific data often mentioned by critics, Boisselier said the surgical technique was developed more than 20 years ago by a French surgeon in France and published in a peer review journal, and that it is now practiced by many other surgeons trained by the French surgeon. Numerous testimonies from women praise his practice.

Nadine Gary, Clitoraid’s international head of operations, said the French health care system has been covering this common surgical procedure in France for years, and that Clitoraid’s head volunteer surgeon, Dr. Marci Bowers, MD, “a brilliant gender reassignment surgeon, will gladly and reliably clarify the steps and results of this surgery for anyone concerned about the validity and safety of this medical procedure.”

Gary said anyone concerned about how Clitoraid’s funds are used should visit , where the organization’s tax return statements are posted.

“I’m sure they’ll be surprised to see that no one in our organization is paid,” Gary said. “The money is so precious that all Clitoraid staffers are volunteers. Every penny goes to the women who call for help. Our reward is to hear about the beautiful, healing results.”

Here is what one of Clitoraid’s patients said after her surgery, according to Gary:

“I feel like every woman feels: I’m going to have the best life, the best marriage.” (Kady, 42, originally from the Ivory Coast)

“Today, two of the women operated on in March called to report that they’ve started having pleasant feelings where only painful scars were before,” Gary said. “And on, you can read a Clitoraid patient’s account of the path to her first orgasm after she recovered from FGM reversal surgery. The vibrator that helped her enjoy the first orgasm of her life was donated by Good Vibrations, and she says she can never thank them enough.”