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Procedure offers women with genital mutilation a chance to rebuild their sexual organs

Published onsdag 21 januari 2015 kl 15.32
"They feel whole, they feel restored."
(2:26 min)
Photo: ANDERS WIKLUND / TT
Karolinska University Hospital. Photo: ANDERS WIKLUND / TT.

For the first time in Sweden women who have undergone female genital mutilation (or FGM) can have their sexual organs partly reconstructed in a medical procedure.

Swedish Radio News reports that after one successful operation at the Karolinska University Hospital just outside Stockholm there are three others on line for the procedure.

"In the studies which exist, there was less pain reported, a better capacity to have orgasm, but also that they feel whole, that they feel restored," said Hannes Sigurjónsson, a resident physician at Karolinska University Hospital, to Swedish Radio.

Sigurjónsson is the first doctor to conduct the medical procedure in Sweden, and Karolinska is the first hospital in Scandinavia to offer it. The method was developed in France some years ago. It involves reconstructing the female clitoris for women who have undergone what is often called female circumcision, which frequently involves cutting away the visible part of the clitoris for young women with a razor blade or sharp knife.

"With FGM, you don't cut away the entire clitoris. It's a long organ and it's only the very top which is cut. The deeper part is hidden by the pubic bone," said Sigurjónsson.

There have been positive results in France where there have already been 5,000 such procedures performed. 98 percent of women reported that after the procedure they had reduced pain and improved their ability to achieve orgasm. While there is not yet any indication of how much interest there will be in Sweden, three women have already queued up for the operation.

Khadra Seerar, a woman who underwent FGM but who has no physical discomfort from it, spoke with a Swedish Radio News reporter about what the procedure means. She said that she knows several people who want the operation.

"When we sit and talk about it, me and my friends, everyone is positive and I know many who are ready to just meet this doctor, have an examination, and see what chance they have to get it," she said.

Seerar told the reporter that she thinks its important that the option is there. And she said she sees it as a sign that society is giving women back what was taken from them, power over their own sexuality.

"It's also a way to make a statement," said Khadra Seerar. "We're rebuilding. We're giving back. And that thing which is in focus, the clitoris... it's here we're trying to recreate it. Here we're returning power to it."

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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