The above photo features an actual advertisement for female genital cosmetic surgery targeted at white women and adolescent girls. The ad is for "labiaplasty", which typically involves cutting the labia minorae but can also include trimming down the clitoral foreskin and other excess flesh around the vulva. The desired effect, as the picture shows, is a smooth, "clean" and nicely sculpted look. For the edification of my Sierra Leonean audience, this is an imitation of a common procedure performed during Bondo initiation, hence our new campaign #imitatednotmutilated.
No more exciting way to begin my blog season (Tuesdays and Thursdays - September 2016 to June 2017) than with the launch of SiA Magazine Fall 2016 in Sierra Leone! And no better time than now when the world is tuned into the strongwomen of Sierra Leone standing up for our rights, dignity and humanity at the highest corridors of global power. Our counter campaign for equal rights is off the ground: From grassroots Bondo women's spontaneous protests in Bo last August following a Guardian UK "training workshop"; to the chiming in of educated professional Bondo women against western funded NGOs tweeting lies surrounding the unfortunate death of a 19 year old young woman in Makeni; and, of course, none of these to be outdone by the bold advocacy of our Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs, Honorable Dr. Sylvia Blyden on behalf of the Government of Sierra Leone and the majority of affected women in our country last week at the Geneva conference on the Convention of the Rights of the Child.
The reality that white British women and teenage girls are running to their doctors to get their inner labia trimmed (labiaplasty), their foreskin reduced (clitoroplexy) and their clitoral glans cosmetically smoothed out (clitoroplasty) - the identical procedures that are performed in Bondo. And yet Britain, our former colonial master, is fanatically obsessed with policing the intactness of Sierra Leonean women's vulvae at their airports and in our own countries!!
In my view it is not okay for western doctors to imitate and market Bondo's traditional genital aesthetic practice and call it "labiaplasty" for their rich white female patients (including under age white girls) while British officials and some of their unscrupulous local activists (restless for Dfid's 14 million pound anti-FGM aid money) use our media to portray the Bondo practice as "mutilation" and "child abuse". Lie. Lie. SiA magazine will get the debate going in Sierra Leone with the launch of our fall issue featuring white women's FGM, oops, did I say that? I mean, labiaplasty. Of course, labiaplasty sounds cleaner, more sanitized, prettier, more privileged and well, whiter. SiA Magazine asks whether this is truly the case. We will feature up close and personal before and after photos, so adults only please. And then, maybe then, we can have a serious, adult, national debate on this so-called FGM in Sierra Leone.