On November 29, 2013 Dr. Marci Bowers restored the clitoris of four victims at the San Mateo Surgery Center in California. One of the women came from West Africa to have the surgery.
Dr. Bowers donates her time as head surgeon for Clitoraid, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping victims of the brutal tradition of female genital mutilation (FGM). Patients are not charged for the surgery performed by Dr. Bowers.
The restoration (of sexual pleasure) is possible because the entire clitoris is sensory, not just the amputated portion. Sensation is robbed by FGM because the amputated portion retracts back and then gets covered by scar tissue. The clitoris is foreshortened by FGM but it isn’t removed – not even a majority of it. The restoration surgery exposes the remaining clitoris. Then, with plastic surgical techniques, we are able to clear the clitoris of obstructing scar tissue, bring the exposed portion to the surface, and secure it there to its usual location but exposed. Often, there is enough extra skin to re-create small labia minora although this is a secondary goal. The exposed sensory portion, free of overlying skin and scar tissue, is then there to function.
Sexuality should be considered one of the basic human senses… imagine if we were deprived of taste or smell? We could certainly live— but life as we know it would be of less enjoyment. Sexual sensation is a basic human right. There is no shame in sensuality. Outrage and war would be fought if men were forced to amputate the head of their penises—FGM is no different. All of us should be outraged by FGM as women and men in many areas of Africa are increasingly feeling. It is information and communication that will help to end the practice of FGM but it must happen from within Africa. As outsiders, we owe it to other women of the world to spread the word, campaign against FGM but also consider a donation to http://www.clitoraid.org/donate to help us restore clitoral function for those who have been deprived.