A team of surgeons in Kenya is giving hope and identity back to women who have undergone female genital mutilation, through a process known as clitoral reconstructive surgery.
The operation is, according to the doctors, expected to reduce pain and complications during childbirth, help the women feel sexual pleasure and even restore their identity, which they feel was stolen during circumcision.
The United Nations estimates that at least three million women are mutilated everyday.
Sarah Kimani met one woman who underwent the surgery in Nairobi.
She is among tens of women who have come here daily for the last two weeks for clitoral reconstructive surgery.
The surgeons who are to perform the surgeries are Dr. Marci Bowers, a US-based gynecologist and surgeon, and Dr. Adan Abdullahi a reconstructive plastic surgeon based in Kenya.
Gynaecologist and surgeon Dr. Marci Bowers says: “I have been doing clitoral restoration for eight years now, my interest started in my own training 35 years ago when we would see p0atients who were cut and people would say leave it alone, don’t talk about it, don’t touch it is cultural and I said that is wrong.”
On her recovery bed, she recounts her ordeal in the hands of the traditional circumcisers and said she was only 12 when she underwent this ordeal.
“I can remember being pinned down, I remember the blade going through me and that was it. We were taken home to recover.”
The World Health Organisation estimates that globally more than 200 million women in 30 countries have undergone the cut. This is one of the reasons why Dr. Abdullahi spent sleepless nights seeking a solution.
“My community is almost 99%. Of course there is education. Anti-FGM crusaders are working there, but it still is happening and it is the sever form of FGM. And I must emphasise that this has nothing to do with Islam. It’s a cultural practice with time it will disappear.”
Medics have proven that Female Genital Mutilation has no medical benefit to girls. They further add that it interferes with the natural function of women’s bodies.
Marci Bowers says about this. “Many have had problems, obstructed labour, bladder infections many have sexual problems their husbands leave them because sex is not pleasing to both partners, but the most important is they seek restoration and it is to regain their identity.”
The clitoral reconstructive surgery was developed by French Surgeon, Dr. Pierre Foldes, the man who trained Dr. Bowers.
Those who undergo the surgeries in the US pay at least $1,700 for the operation room and anaethesia, Dr. Bowes does not charge for the services.
In Kenya, the women are paying just a hundred dollars, both doctors are not charging for their services.
Dr. Adan Abdullahi reconstructive plastic surgeon says, “Because of the numerous requests, we have gotten form the ladies we thought we should get capacity training. We have trained eight surgeons; tomorrow we will have trained ten surgeons.”
The healing is, according to the doctors, fast and the women can resume sexual activity within six to eight weeks.
– By Sarah Kimani