Victims themselves answer San Francisco Chronicle critics of Clitoraid

April 20 2010, Categoría: 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 Dr. Pierre Foldes in France and published in a peer review journal, and that it is now practiced by many other surgeons trained by Foldes. 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.”

CLITORAID responds to critics: ‘This baseless smear campaign is costing genitally mutilated women the valuable support they need to get corrective surgery.’

April 19 2010, Categoría: Press-Releases
LAS VEGAS, April 19 – Las Vegas-based, non-profit organization CLITORAID, which helps victims of female genital mutilation (FGM) receive reconstructive surgery, released a statement today in response to accusations of non-accountability, insensitivity to women’s rights, concerns of African cultures and questions about the overall safety and effectiveness of the surgery it sponsors.

Professor Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg, assistant professor of politics at the University of San Francisco, and Caille Millner, a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, spearheaded what CLITORAID representative Nadine Gary called “a vicious attack of misinformation and distortion of truth.”

“Their statements, especially in Millner’s April 14 article “Wrong Approach to Genital Mutilation,” led to an online petition that cost CLITORAID the participation of its fundraising partner,” Gary said, adding that adult toys retailer Good Vibrations of San Francisco “was bullied into canceling its summer fundraising campaign on behalf of CLITORAID after receiving a petition signed by over 200 people.”

“The funds from Good Vibrations would have purchased medical equipment for our new hospital in Burkina Faso,” Gary said. “Now that won’t happen. It’s so unfair. The allegations are baseless – and some are just plain stupid.”

As an example, Gary said both critics lambasted CLITORAID for its fundraising slogan “Adopt a Clitoris” as though the phrase was meant to be taken literally.

“This slogan was intended to pique curiosity and attract donors,” Gary explained "and thanks to it, we manage to fund the building of our hospital as well as training of our surgeons and operating on a few women here in the US".

“Patients’ names are kept confidential and in no sense whatsoever was anyone adopting or trading body parts. But that’s what these people implied. They don’t seem to know the difference between a figure of speech and reality. Meanwhile, not even one woman awaiting clitoral repair surgery through CLITORAID has complained about the slogan. In fact, none of them have ever even mentioned it!”

As for the allegation that CLITORAID is insensitive toward women and toward members of local African cultures still practicing FGM, Gary pulled no punches.

“Brutal, violent acts like female genital mutilation don’t call for sensitivity,” she said. “They demand immediate action, and that’s what CLITORAID is doing.”

She likened the call for sensitivity toward those in Africa who perpetuate and condone FGM to those who were “sensitive” toward slave owners or Nazis.

“Slave owners in the American South thought Northerners were insensitive to their needs,” Gary said. “And it wasn’t considered polite in Nazi Germany to ask what was happening to the Jews. Both situations demanded blunt, effective, immediate opposition, not sensitivity toward the perpetrators and their supporters.”

She said the same principle applies for eliminating FGM and restoring clitoral functionality through surgery for as many victims as possible.

“This is a senseless, horrible act that causes excruciating pain and sexual deprivation for millions,” Gary said. “While other organizations just discuss and wring their hands, CLITORAID acts. Our first hospital dedicated to clitoral repair surgery will open in Burkina Faso in 2011. And some women assisted by CLITORAID have already had the procedure done successfully here in the United States, at our head surgeon’s Colorado clinic.”

Gary said the San Francisco article was especially disturbing because it demonstrated “blatant prejudice toward Raelians.”

She pointed out that Raelianism is an officially recognized religion in the United States.

“Millner dissed Clitoraid because its founder, Maitreya Rael, teaches that all life on Earth was created scientifically by extraterrestrials,” Gary said. “But acceptance or rejection of that belief doesn’t change the fact that Clitoraid’s clitoral reconstructive surgeries and related therapy are done by professionals. And those professionals are not Raelians. They volunteered to work with Clitoraid because they know the surgery is effective and that women are waiting for it. They wanted to help.”

Gary said Larry Ashley, Ed.S., LADC, LMSW, LPC CPGC, a University of Nevada, Las Vegas, university professor and sexual trauma counselor, sees each Clitoraid-sponsored patient, and that renowned sexual therapist Dr. Betty Dodson created the post-surgery sexual therapy program that complements the procedure.

“This great team of volunteer professionals is made up of non-Raelians who have chosen to work with Clitoraid,” Gary said. “I notice our critics neglected to mention them.”

Regarding the surgery’s safety and efficacy, Gary said the reconstructive procedure sponsored by Clitoraid was devised by surgeon Dr. Pierre Foldes in France, where cost of the treatment is reimbursable under the country’s universal health care system.

“Dr. Foldes isn’t affiliated with the Raelian Movement in any way, nor is he even affiliated with Clitoraid,” Gary said. “But Dr. Marci Bowers, Clitoraid’s head surgeon, trained directly under him. Dr. Bowers is also a non-Raelian, and she is training other physicians to perform the procedure. The surgery is safe and effective and it’s performed in accredited hospitals.”

Gary said critics of Clitoraid should practice what they preach.

“Millner and Professor Kamau-Rutenberg say Good Vibrations should have exercised due diligence before associating with Clitoraid, but they didn’t do their own. These two women should have known better. They turned the truth about Clitoraid completely upside down out of their own prejudice and a lot of ill-founded assumptions. In the process, they hurt many good people. And those they’ve hurt most are the FGM victims on our waiting list.”

Woman raped and genitally mutilated by Saudi employer seeks help, Hopes to receive surgical repair through CLITORAID

April 13 2010, Categoría: Press-Releases
LAS VEGAS, April 9 – “I was repeatedly raped and also circumcised* by my employer,” a female U.S. resident recently told CLITORAID (, a nonprofit organization that helps victims of female genital mutilation (FGM) receive surgery that restores the capacity for sexual pleasure.

(*Female circumcision” is a polite term for FGM, a brutal act typically performed on victims during childhood. In this case, the excision was performed on a grown woman.)

“The surgical technique brings clitoral roots back to the surface,” said Brigitte Boisselier, PhD, who heads CLITORAID. “Those receiving this surgery have the chance to reach orgasm like any other woman.”

She said that although CLITORAID receives thousands of e-mailed messages and phone calls, “the inquiry from the woman raped and mutilated by her boss is probably the most disturbing account ever received on the CLITORAID Web site.”

The victim (her name is omitted to protect her privacy), told CLITORAID that while working in Saudi Arabia in her early 20s, she was genitally mutilated and repeatedly raped by her employer.

“He said women aren’t supposed to have a clitoris and that it’s condemned by the Holy Koran,” she said. “I had to comply. Otherwise, they would have murdered me.” When she later married, she kept the details from her husband. “He just knows it was part of a practice that was required during a medical examination and done without my consent,” she said, adding that although she can’t afford the repair surgery right now, she “will do whatever it takes to put money together and put this nightmare behind me.”

“Like most who contact us, she can’t afford surgery,” Boisselier commented, adding that although CLITORAID’s lead surgeon, Dr. Marci Bowers, performs the procedure for free, the hospital charges a fee.

CLITORAID was founded by Rael, leader of the Raelian Movement, with the goal of offering clitoral repair surgery to all FGM victims who want it. The program addresses all aspects, including counseling. But money is scarce.

“I wish I could tell all who inquire to come to Trinidad, Colorado, where Dr. Bowers operates,” said Nadine Gary, Clitoraid’s patient coordinator. “But we have only a few private sponsors to help pay travel expenses and hospital fees. We need more!”

Clitoraid-assisted FGM patient, 33, celebrates first orgasm!

March 23 2010, Categoría: Press-Releases
FGM to become ‘a horrific, historical fluke’ as word of reversal surgery spreads
LAS VEGAS, Mar. 23

A 33-year-old victim 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 then suddenly I was overtaken by this incredible feeling that lasted several seconds! I had my first orgasm!”

Mariame (whose last name is omitted here 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 to help FGM victims.

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 their female relatives. Anesthesia is rarely used and the pain is excruciating.

“Over 135 million women and teenagers worldwide are currently living through the consequences of this horrific act of brutality,” Gary said in a statement released this morning. “They can’t experience the physical pleasures of relationships that most women take for granted, and many of them also feel inadequate and ashamed of their plight. Clitoraid wants to help as many of these victims as possible, and to make FGM obsolete by offering and publicizing the surgery that reverses the damage. When you can restore what was taken away, 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 FGM victims like Mariame to receive the surgery they need to achieve sexual pleasure and regain their sense of feminine dignity,” Gary said. “That’s why Clitoraid is currently building a hospital in Burkina Faso, West Africa, for the sole purpose of offering the surgery and related therapy to FGM victims free of charge. Dr. Bowers and other volunteers will take part in the hospital’s opening next January.”
But the surgery alone is not enough, Gary said.

“We have to teach them how to get their sense of pleasure back and to overcome their inhibitions,” she explained. “That’s why therapy is equally important. At Clitoraid, we realize that mind and body have to be treated together, so we’re very grateful to Dr. Larry Ashley, a university professor and sexual trauma counselor who volunteered to give individual sessions to each of our patients.”
She added that Mariame had also benefited from a fun, educational workshop inspired by sexual therapist Dr. Betty Dodson.

“The workshop helped her recover her clitoral sensation and overcome her shyness about sex,” Gary explained. “And it helped her accept and welcome the look of her newly repaired clitoris and to 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 are instrumental for helping FGM reversal patients recover clitoral sensation,” Gary said. “They reestablish nerve pathways, something the patients can’t achieve solely through finger stimulation.”

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