FGM to become 'a horrific, historical fluke' as word of reversal surgery spreads
LAS VEGAS, March 24 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A 33-year-old victim of female genital mutilation (FGM) was ecstatic when she made an after-midnight phone call to Clitoraid head patient coordinator Nadine Gary in mid-March.
"I was feeling so good, I didn't want to let go at first," she told Gary. "It was a strange sensation, and suddenly I was overtaken by this incredible feeling that lasted several seconds! I had my first orgasm!"
Mariame (her last name is omitted to protect her privacy), an African immigrant, had undergone clitoral reconstructive surgery in Trinidad, Colo., nine months earlier. The procedure was performed by Clitoraid's head surgeon, Dr. Marci Bowers, who volunteers her services.
In childhood, Mariame and millions of other women were forced to endure the ancestral tradition of clitoral cutting, an act of extreme cruelty typically performed on little girls by female relatives. Anesthesia is rarely used and the pain is excruciating.
"Over 135 million women worldwide are currently living the consequences of this horrific act," Gary said in a statement released today. "They can't experience the physical pleasures of relationships that most women take for granted, and many of them also feel inadequate and ashamed. Clitoraid wants to help as many victims as possible, and to make FGM obsolete by offering and publicizing surgery that reverses the damage. When you can repair it, there's no point in doing the horrible deed in the first place."
Las Vegas-based Clitoraid, a nonprofit organization, was founded in 2004 by Rael, founder and spiritual leader of the International Raelian Movement.
"He wanted victims like Mariame to have the surgery they need to achieve sexual pleasure and regain their dignity," Gary said. "That's why Clitoraid is building a hospital in Burkina Faso, West Africa, for the sole purpose of offering the surgery free of charge. The hospital will open next January."
But surgery alone is not enough, Gary said.
"We have to teach patients how to get their sense of pleasure back and overcome their inhibitions," she explained. "Therapy is equally important, and we're very grateful to Dr. Larry Ashley, a professor and sexual trauma counselor who volunteered to give individual sessions to each of our patients."
She said Mariame also benefited from a workshop inspired by sexual therapist Dr. Betty Dodson.
"It helped her recover clitoral sensation and overcome her shyness about sex," Gary explained. "And it helped her accept the appearance of her repaired clitoris and trust that it really could give her pleasure now."
Also helpful to Mariame were vibrators and other sensual toys donated by Clitoraid's new partner, Good Vibrations, an adult toys retailer based in San Francisco.
"Vibrators help FGM reversal patients recover clitoral sensation," Gary said. "They reestablish nerve pathways, which patients can't achieve solely through finger stimulation."