female circumcision

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Some thoughts on Clitoraid and the ethics of intervention

Sexual pleasure is a human right and I wholeheartedly support the providing of free surgery to those who need it and can't afford it. This is the case for many women who underwent the excision of their clitorises during ritual cutting (FGM/C). There is also no question in my mind that "Adopt a Clitoris" - the campaign rally of Clitoraid.org - is a deeply problematic slogan for a deeply problematic organization. If you're new to the Clitoraid story here's some background: 

Several years ago the Raelians (a religious group that believes humans were created by intelligent designers from outer space) founded an organization, Clitoraid, to offer free clitoris reconstruction surgeries to women who had undergone clitoridectomy - one form of female circumcision or female genital mutliation/cutting (FGM/C) - so that they could have the pleasure of clitoral stimulation restored to them. Clitoraid uses language that reduces sexual pleasure to clitoral orgasms and that treats African women's bodies as objects that can be reduced to clitorises and adopted. That said, it is true that their mission is indeed to provide free surgery to women who need it. They do this by funding surgeries at a clinic in Trinidad Colorado, and also by using donations to build a hospital in Burkina Faso.

There are a number of problems with Clitoraid's work and I'm going to talk about only two. Dr. Wanjiru Kamau-Rotenberg raises questions about the connection between Good Vibes and Clitoraid (more on that below) and Dr. Petra Boynton raisies questions about Clitoraid from a medical and research ethics point of view. Please read their work. I've included a list of sources explaining the work already going on in Burkina Faso at the bottom of this post as well.

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