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Greenville, South Carolina: Restoring hope to FGM victims
Ervin F. Boyd 2087 Brown Avenue Greenville, SC 29601
Victims of female genital mutilation experience multiple short-term and long-term health and psychological risks. The practice causes excessive bleeding, infections, painful urination, keloids, trauma and childbirth problems.
There is, however, hope for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) victims in Kenya after clitoral reconstructive surgery was introduced in the country last week.
Over 45 victims of FGM aged between 16 and 68 years have undergone the procedure at Mama Lucy and the Karen hospitals. The procedure is aimed at restoring the dignity and sexuality of the victims whose clitoris have been mutilated resulting in painful side effects and abnormalities in sexual function.
Dr Marci Bowers, a gynaecology surgeon at Clitoraid, a US-based non-profit organisation, FGM takes away the identity of women and a part of them. The surgery aims at enabling them feel whole again.
Clitoraid, working in collaboration with Kenyan non-governmental organisation, Garana and Dr Abdullahi Adan, a plastic reconstructive surgeon, introduced Clitoral restorative surgery in the country.
The clitoris is one of the parts of the female anatomy that’s adversely affected during FGM. It affects sexuality of women and even causes problems in marriages. “The physiology of the clitoris is underestimated.
It is at least 11 cms in an average woman, which means even in the worst FGM cases less than five per cent is removed. We are bringing back the remaining part of clitoris,” says Bowers.
According to Adan, the main body of the clitoris is buried beneath the genitalia. What is normally cut during FGM is the tip. During the procedure the surgeon dissects the area removing the scar tissue.
This allows it to come to the surface and put it in place where it can be contacted sexually. Clitoroplasty, as the procedure is referred to, was developed by French urologist Dr Pierre Foldes. It has achieved a high-level of effectiveness in the US and Burkina Faso where it was introduced first.
“Clitoraid was getting a lot of enquiries about clitoral reconstructive surgery. Some women from Kenya actually flew all the way to California,” says Adan. There has been a great degree of effectiveness of the Clitoroplasty technique.
“According to a study of more than 3,000 patients half of them are able to get an orgasm – some for the first time in their lives. More than 90 per cent report that their function in sex is better,” says Dr Bowers.
A majority of those that have undergone the procedure have regained their sexual sensitivity. “Most importantly, most of them feel a sense of completeness because something that was taken away from them has been brought back.
This is something that has brought problems in marriages. It may underestimate but it’s a big thing for a woman,” says Adan. A total of 16 doctors in Kenya have received training on the procedure to enable more victims of the FGM benefit.
Two obstetricians in Mama Lucy, one urologist and four plastic surgeons have been trained. Even with the high success rate, Bowers is quick to add that the perfect solution to the problem is to put an end to FGM.
Basile, Louisiana: I Went Balls Deep at New York's First Ever 'Designer Vagina' Fashion Show
Thomas W. Andrews 193 Sarah Drive Basile, LA 70515
I meet Dr. Amir Marashi in a stark white lobby where women in lingerie and shortened lab coats are handing out half full glasses of rosé champagne. Making probing, friendly eye contact, he tells me, “My job allows me to say the word ‘vagina’ whenever I want and no one can say it’s weird.” “Same,” I reply and we both laugh. It’s nice to bond with a fellow professional.
Born in Iran to a surgeon father, Dr. Marashi has been experiencing life in the operating room since the age of 10. In adulthood, he’s become an accomplished OB/GYN who boasts having never taken more than 15 minutes to finish a C-section. He’s handsome, with a pristinely shaved head and—as revealed by the deep V of his shirt—an equally manicured chest, and extremely personable. Several of his clients seem nearly at tears as they tell a small group of journalists about how the charismatic doctor has improved their lives. One woman tells us that she would have become sterile had it not been for Dr. Marashi diagnosing her endometriosis. Now she has a beautiful daughter who’s about to model in a children’s fashion show for Target.
But it’s not birth that Dr. Marashi is here to tell us about. No, he’s here to sell new vaginas.
Scheduled in the midst of New York Fashion Week, the event—titled a “Designer Vagina Showcase”—took place at the iHeartRadio offices in midtown, where guests were promised “a glass of sparkling rosé, sushi and cupcakes.” They delivered, both on the libations and on the “designer” pussy, the creation of which Dr. Marashi, a practitioner in cosmetic gynecology, has come to specialize in.
“Women are so ashamed to talk about their vaginas,” he tells me in the lobby. “They should be able to ask ‘Is this normal’ and if they don’t like how their vaginas look, they should feel empowered to change it.”
If my hackles weren’t already raised at “designer vagina,” they certainly were at “empowerment,” a word that’s increasingly being used less to actually empower and more to dupe women into spending money.
To a novice, labiaplasty—the surgical reshaping of the labia majora or minora—seems about as far from empowering as you can get, an elective procedure chosen by women whose minds have been warped by the waxed Barbie pussies of the porn industry. But, as I’ll learn over the next hour with Dr. Marashi taking us through seemingly endless slides of his patients’ vulvas (all shown with permission), there are plenty of reasons that women undergo gynecological cosmetic surgery. Several of them are—in my limited scope—entirely justifiable.
A person might elect to have labiaplasty because their labia minora is too long to make simple activities like riding a bike, having sex, or even wearing fitted pants feel enjoyable. Someone might get a clitoral hood reduction or G-spot injection for increased sexual pleasure. As we well know, a woman who’s lost bladder control or the ability to feel sensation during intercourse after childbirth might undergo vaginoplasty, so that she can regain sensation or—at the very least—stop pissing herself. (A reasonable desire, if I ever heard one.) Then there’s the usual wear and tear of time. Some women just want their elasticity back and doctors like Amir Marashi—using muscle reconstruction or, less painfully, a few zaps of a laser—are more than ready to give it to them. (At a price.)
But Dr. Marashi first became involved in vaginal reconstructive surgery for hymenoplasty, a.k.a. virginity restoration.
“Living in America, you probably won’t experience the importance of hymen reconstruction,” he tells us. But in Iran, where he began practicing medicine, women are expected to be virgins at marriage, though many of them are not. The journalists in the room—all white, female, American—groan at this, but Dr. Marashi rushes to explain that these are not his personal values, just the values of the culture.
“I always said that these women weren’t devirginizing themselves,” he laughs, pointing out the double standard between Middle Eastern men and women to the appeasement of the group. By performing these procedures, he tells us, he was just providing a needed service to desperate women.
He does this distancing of Western and Eastern cultures a couple times throughout the presentation, once while talking about hymenoplasty and again while talking about female genital mutilation in Western, Eastern, Central, and Northern Africa. FGM, he says, is “absolutely wrong.” I’m tempted to challenge him to specify—because what he really means is that non-elective genital mutilation is wrong. Mutilating your labia and augmenting your vagina is just fine (in both his mind and mine), just so long as you’re the one who’s chosen to do it. And, if it were up to the eager PR team waiting in the wings, you paid Dr. Marashi to perform the procedure.
When picking a doctor for your cosmetic gynecology, he tells us, the most important thing is to look at the before and after photos of their work. The ideal surgeon will have done at least 100 similar procedures prior to your operation and you don’t want to go to a doctor who won’t take your personal needs into account, as there is no one-size-fits-all labia.
As for the vagina, “it’s easy to tighten,” he says, but to create a lasting tightness, “you must rebuild the muscle underneath” and not all doctors can do that. “You want to build a house on a sandy beach, make sure you build a foundation first.”
In all honesty, Dr. Marashi has swayed me. No, I’ve yet to find labiaplasty “empowering,” but I do get why a person would choose to do it and after seeing the photos of his work, it no longer seems quite as porn-y or insidious as it did before. But then there’s the 27-year-old woman who’s undergone labiaplasty not once, but three times since the age of 20.
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Standing up to address the group, the woman—very comfortable in front of a crowd—tells us that her first two procedures, done by a different Manhattan surgeon, failed to please her. Finally, upon undergoing surgery with Dr. Marashi, she got the perfect labia that she always wanted. Before she couldn’t stand naked in front of a mirror—and now?
“I wish it was summer,” she says. “I’m going to go to all the nude beaches possible.”
She seems truly happy, but there’s something I find a bit off about her message, as well as the messages of the other patients.
“Now I have a double P,” a woman in her 40s tells the reporters as she hangs off Dr. Marashi’s arm. “A pretty pussy.”
But what even is a pretty pussy? Perhaps that’s a question you can only answer if you feel you don’t have one. Is the rubber vulva model that sits on the table—hairless, pale pink skin, and barely a labia minora in sight—a pretty pussy? I still don’t know, though I’ll agree that in the before and after shots we’re shown (several in which the labia minora hangs inches past the labia majora), the “after” looks, to my untrained eye, much more comfortable.
“I think society’s become more open,” the 27-year-old says. “Rihanna has strip clubs in her music videos now. We can talk about these things now.”
I disagree here. Society has not become more open, it’s just become more explicit, which—as someone who doesn’t mind looking at bodies—is okay by me. But let’s not pretend that openness and explicitness is the same thing. Openness should make people feel good, even if their labia hangs to their knees; explicitness is just a way to remind you of the physical expectations of the society you live in.
Throughout the presentation, there’s a question I keep grappling with: For me, it’s obvious that an adult woman should be able to get practically any elective surgery she wants because A) it’s none of my business and B) it’s her body to work with. But what if, like in a scenario that Dr. Marashi mentions at least once, a teen girl is being mocked in the locker room for her long labia? Should she have to keep it until adulthood simply because, in a perfect world, she would be perfectly comfortable with whatever she was born with? That’s a huge weight to put on a young woman’s shoulders and—approaching the question from a place of compassion—I think the answer is no.
But I also think framing Dr. Marashi’s office as the “House of Designer Vaginas,” as it was called during the presentation (or the pointless addition of the models in lab coats) is gross and only further stigmatizes women with vaginas that society—in all its “openness”—has deemed “abnormal.”
The conclusion is there is no conclusion. Escaping from the way society makes women doubt themselves is nearly impossible, so, by all means, get a “designer vagina” from Dr. Marashi, a very talented and kind-seeming man, if you so choose. Keep in mind, though: a potential risk (possible, though never experienced by Dr. Marashi himself) is that your taint could end up completely split open.
Sacramento, California: Chinese border residents buy North Korean bride with a bag of rice
Peter M. Carlton 612 Timber Ridge Road Sacramento, CA 95814
Today, in our eyes, marrying a foreign girl or a foreign husband is not difficult as long as both sides have love. This is also a shortcut for lots of girls who want to enjoy a fairly comfortable life, but for North Korea girls all this is like asking for moon. They can not marry men out of North Korea according the law and can not even go abroad, because they do not have a passport,North Korea does not allow citizens to own private passports.
That’s mainly because when they see the outside world, they will not return to Korea. But Kim Jong-il himself has two foreign marriages, the second wife is a South Korean movie star, and third wife a Korean fromJapan, both can be called “foreigners”.
Korean girls in poverty are also eager to marry a wealthy foreigner, while when the normal foreign registration channel was closed after by North Korean government, they can only turn to illegal immigration. Usually there are two smuggling ways: one is to walk across the ice ofYaluRivertoChinaside at winter night, the other is to bribe North Korean border guard with money.
If any Chinese man takes a fancy to a Korean beauty, in most cases they will get the girl by bribery, and usually 100 Yuan or a bag or rice can make it, but the majority of the North Korea brides are illegal immigrants trafficked to China.
The China side also needs regular procedures to get married, but they can not do that, many Korean bride even giving birth to child are still unregistered household and have to hide everyday.
If tipped off these Korean brides will be sent back to North Korea while waiting for them is a notorious flattery of “traitor” and prison. According to the laws of North Korea, for the first repatriation from Chinathey will be sentenced to reeducation through labor for one year, the second three years, and the third five years.
Nowadays in rural areas of Yanbian, Jilin Province,Northeast China, many people will lend a hand and introduce hungry North Korean girls to locals as wife. Some village even has more than 10 North Korean brides, some of whom are bought from traffickers for a 10,000 Yuan.
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They can understand, speak Chinese and are satisfied with life in China, but fear of being sent back to North Korea grips them.
Longing for a better life is not wrong! When can the North Korean bride be like a Vietnam bride who can get married to foreigners freely?
In rural villages of the border many Chinese men buy Korean girls as wife, especially for those in poverty or with disability. Traffickers seize this market, traffick a lot of Korean girls and sell to the villagers 10,000 Yuan per girl.
These Korean girls look good, work hard and care for the elderly. Most of them can understand and speak Chinese in a few months and they are very satisfied with life here.
But we all know, these girls are black households, marrying them has a risk. For rural people, human nature and feelings between people gain the upper hand, they feel as long as people do not report, officials will not investigate that, and this kind of live is also very good.
Of course these girls do not want to go back toNorth Korea, It was a very poor place, and people there even suffer from starving everyday just like China in its 50s and 60s.
Chinese people want to go to developed countries like Europe and theUnited States, most are likely to fulfill their dream of gold, but North Korean come toChinamainly in order to solve their food and clothing problems. If it is not intolerable, who are willing to risk their lives to flee their own country and do not want to go back?
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