Clitoraid announces new round of clitoral repair surgeries in U.S. for FGM victims


16 Feb, 2010
 None    North America

Eight women are about to receive a highly unusual and belated valentine – the ability to achieve physical satisfaction during sex after being forcibly deprived of that capacity in childhood through female genital mutilation (FGM), an act of horrific brutality.


Clitoraid RnEight women are about to receive a highly unusual and belated valentine – the ability to achieve physical satisfaction during sex after being forcibly deprived of that capacity in childhood through female genital mutilation (FGM), an act of horrific brutality.
Initiated by Rael, founder and leader of the International Raelian Movement, Las Vegas-based Clitoraid, a non-profit, all-volunteer organization, announced today that its second round of female genital mutilation (FGM) reversal surgeries will take place March 2-3 in Trinidad, Colo. Trinidad is where Dr. Marci Bowers, Clitoraid’s head surgeon, practices.
“FGM is common in many countries, even in the United States in some ethnic neighborhoods,” said Clitoraid representative Nadine Gary. “Clitoraid’s twin mission is to end FGM worldwide and to help as many victims as possible through surgery.”
A specialist in pelvic and gender-reassignment surgery, Bowers went to France to learn the new procedure developed by Dr. Pierre Foldes that successfully restores clitoral functioning to FGM victims. In 2009, having learned the technique directly from Foldes, she became the first U.S. surgeon to successfully perform this type of restorative surgery when several Clitoraid-sponsored women traveled to Bowers’ clinic to have the operation.
“Dr. Bowers was the first American doctor to volunteer her services, said Clitoraid representative Nadine Gary. “We’re hoping more will follow, since the need is great.”
Gary said the new surgery could change the lives of millions of FGM victims worldwide, restoring the capacity for pleasure most of us take for granted.
“Waris Dirie, whose true-life story was told in the movie “Desert Flower, was just one of countless FGM victims,” she said. “But their suffering can now be relieved, because Clitoraid offers the possibility of restoring what was so horribly taken away. We just need much greater public awareness about this issue. The more funds we raise, the more victims we can help.”

Gary said FGM is most prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa.
“That’s why Clitoraid is building its first clitoral repair hospital in Burkina Faso, where victims will be treated for free,” Gary said. “Construction is almost finished and Dr. Bowers will perform the new hospital’s first surgeries on site in June. She’ll also train local doctors to perform the procedure so more women can be helped.”
In the interim, Bowers will operate on the second group of Clitoraid-sponsored victims at her Colorado clinic in March. The eight patients range in age from 22 to over 50 and represent four continents. Their countries of origin include Japan, Korea, Liberia, Austria, Canada and the United States.
Poignant stories of suffering and new hope
“Those having the surgery have just one thing in mind – to get their pleasure and dignity back,” Gary said. “They know what they’ve missed. One woman is having the surgery so she won’t be the mutilated bride her relatives intended her to be. She’s getting married soon and wants to enjoy the physical part of things along with her husband. She had the courage to defy tradition, and we’re hoping many others will follow in her footsteps.”
Another patient (whose name is withheld to protect her privacy) gave Clitoraid a poignant, written summary of the atrocity she experienced as a helpless child.
“All I remember is going to bed one night, having breakfast the next morning and then having two ladies hold my legs while another woman came toward me with a razor,” the woman wrote. “I struggled and managed at one point to escape, but they just came after me in the street and held me down again. I weep as I type this, because this memory is so horrible. I spent weeks recovering, with ropes tied around my legs.”
Pre-surgery, each patient in the group will receive free, private counseling from Dr. Larry Ashley, a University of Nevada, Las Vegas, professor who specializes in sexual trauma.
“FGM not only cuts the flesh but affects its victims mentally and emotionally for the rest of their lives,” Gary said. “They feel guilty and ashamed about pleasure and sensuality and those feelings are deeply ingrained. That’s why Clitoraid considers counseling as important as the surgery itself, and we made sure to include it in our program.”
She added that the new patients will also have the opportunity to take part in a workshop that incorporates the self-love teachings of sexologist Betty Dodson, who volunteered to assist the women during the post-op months of the recovery process.
How clitoral repair surgery restores pleasure
“The restoration [of sexual pleasure] is possible because the entire clitoris is sensory, not just the amputated portion,” Bowers explained. “Sensation is robbed [through FGM] because the amputated portion retracts back and then gets covered by scar tissue. The clitoris is foreshortened by FGM but it isn’t removed – not even a majority of it. The restoration surgery exposes the clitoral stump. Then, with plastic surgery techniques, we are able to bring the exposed portion to the surface, suture it there and even create new labia minora in many cases by utilizing the available surrounding skin. The exposed sensory portion, free of overlying skin and scar tissue, is then there to function.”