WEST AFRICA: “Pleasure hospital” under construction for FGM/C victims
6 May 2009 (IRIN) - Construction has begun of West Africa’s first
clinic for reconstructing clitorises for victims of female genital
mutilation/cutting (FGM/C). Amid high demand, the US non-profit
Clitoraid is funding the clinic, dubbed “Pleasure Hospital”, in
Bobo-Dioulasso, western Burkina Faso.
Financed through the non-profit’s “Adopt a clitoris”
campaign that sponsors women wishing to have clitoral reconstruction,
Clitoraid raised more than US$50,000 to build the facility.
Construction began in March and is expected to be completed by
Once opened, US-based gynaecological surgeons will offer free clitoral reconstruction
surgeries to FGM/C victims from across West Africa. Currently too few
surgeons are available to serve the number of women who want to
reconstruct their mutilated clitorises and the price in private clinics
remains unaffordable for most, according to the few surgeons trained on
the procedure in Burkina Faso where the surgery was pioneered in 2006.
“Clitoraid decided to build the clinic in Bobo-Dioulasso because it is
at the crossroads of several West African countries,” said Mariam
Banemanie, president of Clitoraid’s local NGO partner, Voices of Women.
Three million girls are at risk of FGM/C every year in Africa, according to World Health Organization (WHO), which defines FGM/C as any injury to female genital organsfor non-medical reasons.
clinic will restore justice and give women the ability to feel sexual
pleasure,” Banemanie told IRIN. “Burkinabé women are b eginning to
stand up for what they believe in – why should sexual pleasure not be a
part of that?”
There has been such high demand for the
reconstruction surgery that Clitoraid has placed a cap on the waiting
list at 100, she said. Voices of Women receives daily calls from women
– and sometimes husbands – expressing interest in the procedure, she
Prospective patients receive counselling from the NGO’s psychologist
who – on request – puts them in touch with women who have had clitoral
reconstruction surgery in private clinics.
Abi Sanon, 36, said she was “lucky” to undergo clitoral reconstruction
at a hospital in Ouagadougou in 2006. “I wanted to find my integrity
and to know real pleasure. The procedure cost $320; my boyfriend
contributed. It has really changed our lives. Before, I did not really
know what pleasure felt like, and now it is not my boyfriend who calls
the shots in our relationship – it is much more equal,” said Sanon, who
told IRIN she had her clitoris cut as a young girl.
Sanon told IRIN she was surprised at her family’s positive reaction
when she informed them she had wanted the surgery, since she said
talking about sexual pleasure is still seen as taboo in her country.
Her 70-year-old mother has expressed interest in having the procedure once the hospital opens.