Clitoraid hospital to open in Bobo Dioulasso, Burkina Faso in 2012

10월 02 2011, 종류: International NEWS
Every year around three million girls are genitally mutilated in the world. This old cruel tradition lives on even though it’s prohibited by law in most countries, including Burkina Faso. Plenty of efforts are done world-wide to put an end to this practice. One of the most remarkable initiatives may be the Clitoraid foundation that not just works to end the mutilations, but offers a way to undo the mutilation, at least physically, by repairing the clitoris.

By the end of 2012 Clitoraid plans to open a first hospital where they will offer surgery for free to victims of genital mutilation. The hospital goes under the name “The Pleasure Hospital”. The demand for this service is huge and increases as the word spreads. At the time of this writing, a year before the opening, Clitoraid has more than 400 women in Africa on their waiting list and yet another 30 in the US.

Several operations have already been performed and Banemanie, a woman in her fifties living in Burkina Faso, was one of the first to go through with the surgery.
“I was delighted when I heard about this operation and that it is possible to repair the clitoris. I urge the circumcised women all over the world and of all ages to get in contact and sign up to do the surgery. One woman told me she couldn’t see the point of the surgery as she’s fifty. It’s sad to hear things like that because I don’t think it matters what age you are. It is never too late”, says Banemanie. Today she is one of many Clitoraid-volunteers and also one of the foundations spokespersons. As a spokesperson she also shares her story online, to encourage other women and show that they are not alone with their experiences.
In a video on Clitoraid’s website she shares her story of that horrible day when she was 13. One afternoon when she got back home four elderly women were waiting for her near the lavatories by her house. The women grabbed her, forced her down on the ground and held in her arms and legs. One of them held the knife. “I've never screamed so much in my life. You can’t imagine the pain. Even when I talk about it today, I get tears in my eyes. Afterwards it kept bleeding a lot, it was dripping blood everywhere”, she says. But the pain did not end with this. Banemanie lost a lot blood and it took two months before the wound had healed, and as often in the case of female genital mutilation, severe scars remained.

350 EUR for an operation

The surgery for repairing genitally mutilated women was developed by a French surgeon more than 20 years ago. The surgery removes scar tissue and exposes the stump of the clitoris. The clitoris is in fact between six to ten centimetres long and mostly tucked in deep inside a woman's genitalia. The surgery aims at uncovering some of the clitoral tissue remaining after the circumcision hidden by the overlying skin. There are several types of circumcision affecting not only the clitoris but other parts of the victims’ genitalia. The surgery focuses on repairing the clitoris and freeing the vaginal opening if it was sown together as a result of the circumcision.
The operation costs about 350 EUR (500 USD), which unfortunately is an insurmountable sum for most people in Burkina Faso, as well as in many other African countries.
It must be clarified that 350 EUR (500 USD) is the current cost charged by non-affiliated Clitoraid doctors in Burkina Faso.  Once Clitoraid’s hospital is finished, these surgeries will be offered free of charge or at a minimal cost. Understandably, if the surgery is performed in Europe or the United States, the cost is much even higher for patients travelling from Africa due to steep western medical fees combined with accommodation and traveling.

First hospital to open by the end 2012

The construction of the “Pleasure Hospital” began in May 2007, in the town of Bobo-Dioulasso. The hospital’s official name is however “Kamkasso hospital”, which means “women's house”. The authorities in Bobo-Dioulasso didn’t agree on such a daring name as the “Pleasure Hospital", thereof this slight name-confusion.
Clitoraid has so far managed to raise enough funds to erect the building. Bricks have been laid by volunteers and some equipment has been donated from hospitals around the globe. The hospital will not only serve to do genital surgery, but will serve as general clinic for the area.
"Today we are confident that we can have the hospital ready for the women by mid 2012 as a few donators are now coming forward to help us finish it and have it operational for our trained international surgeons", explains Brigitte Boisselier, president of Clitoraid.
"One hospital in Burkina Faso may seem like a drop in the ocean in comparison to the millions of women in need of the surgery, but the idea is to open up more clinics around the world."
"We don't want to limit ourselves to the Kamkasso hospital, once this unit is operational and we have learned how to run it best, we want to reproduce it in all the regions where women have been mutilated and are hoping to know one day what it is to be whole again".

FACTS / Genital mutilation

According to the WHO about three million women are circumcised each year. That means that more than 8,000 girls are subjected to genital mutilation every day. It is estimated to be between 130 and 150 million genitally mutilated women in the world.
Female Genital Mutilation is often abbreviated to FGM.
WHO has classified four types or degrees of FGM:

  • Partial or total removal of the clitoris and / or clitoral prepuce(clitoridotomy).
  • Partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia, with or without excision (cutting away) of the outer labia(excision).
  • Reduction of the vaginal opening by creating a seal in that the cutting and joining the inner and / or outer labia, with or without excision of the clitoris(infibulation).
  • All other harmful procedures on the female genitalia for non-medical reasons, such as cracking, chopping, scraping and burning.

Kenny Stolpe
Journalist and Web Communications Consultant