The government of Burkina Faso has blocked the opening of Africa’s first clitoral restoration hospital, and the group behind the effort says the Catholic Church is to blame.
“Although the government has suddenly withdrawn its approval for surgeries to be performed there, this facility, once open, will provide free surgery for victims of female genital mutilation,” Dr. Brigitte Boisselier, president of Clitoraid and spokesperson for the International Raelian Movement, said in a statement on Monday. “The procedure repairs the physical damage they endured. But this wonderful mission has now been stymied by the Catholic Church and its cronies, who are conducting a smear campaign against it for their own selfish motives.”
The Raelian movement was formed by Claude Vorilhon in 1974. Followers believe that extraterrestrial beings called the Elohim created life on Earth about 25,000 years ago.
Clitoraid, a private non-profit organization founded by Raelian movement to fight female genital mutilation, said it would take immediate legal action against Burkina Faso. The group also said there would be worldwide protests in front of Burkina Faso’s embassies.
The so-called “Pleasure Hospital” was due to open on March 7. More than 300 victims of female genital mutilation had signed up to receive free clitoral restoration surgery.
“Our surgeons are licensed to perform surgeries in Burkina Faso,” Boisselier said. “The people responsible for these pressures against us should be ashamed. The Kamkaso hospital is the collective effort of thousands of people of various philosophical backgrounds. They have all contributed to restore the pleasure of life to thousands of women who experienced deep trauma.”
Female circumcision — a religious tradition practiced by Christians, Muslims, and other faiths in Africa, Asia and the Middle East — involves excising all or part of the external labia and clitoris.
About 125 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation, according to a report released by UNICEF in 2012.
“By seeking to prevent our opening, the Catholic Church has become an accomplice of the criminals who mutilate the genitals of African women,” Boisselier declared. “Along with its mission of restoring mutilated clitorises for FGM victims, Clitoraid’s Pleasure Hospital will be a strong deterrent to those who still practice this barbaric custom. They would stop making the excisions since it’s foolish to destroy something that can be readily restored.”
Watch video about the hospital, produced by the Raelians, below.