Dr Gàbor Vàradi
« God did not create woman to deny her pleasure. »
Dr Gàbor Vàradi
Geneva / Switzerland
More women are currently victims of circumcision than influenza. Today, this mutilation is inflicted on 6,000 girls every day. The 2 million mutilated children per year swell the numbers of the 160 million circumcised women living all over the world.
In addition to pain and psychological trauma, this ritual genital mutilation, most often called female genital mutilation (FGM), is accompanied by serious immediate complications. One hundred thousand little girls die every year from bleeding or infection.
The origins of this shocking tradition date back to ancient Egypt.
Dr. Gàbor Vàradi, a plastic surgeon in Geneva, was shocked by this practice and its consequences. In 2005 he created a humanitarian surgical association called Swiss & Love, whose mission is to provide help for circumcised women.
His initial aim was to reconstruct the victims of FGM, mutilated in both their bodies and in their identity as women. However, through the testimonies of women he treated, he rapidly became aware of the complex psychological and social consequences of FGM. As a result, Dr Vàradi expanded his priorities to include dispensing information, the promotion of education, and raising awareness of the psycho-sexual approach.
The surgical procedure consists of repairing circumcision, the mutilation of the external part of the clitoris, using relatively simple techniques. Anatomical repairs are usually fairly easy because the circumcisers do not cut very deep for fear of triggering a fatal haemorrhage. This repair is accompanied by an often impressive functional recovery and the patients’ feeling of having regained their physical integrity.
As for the clitoris, even today a mysterious and poorly understood organ, it measures 12 to 15 centimetres, and while its integrity is important for a woman’s sexual satisfaction, the only real primary sexual organ is the brain. This holds true for men too. We should note that the embryological origin of the penis and the clitoris is the same.
Infibulation, another form of ritual mutilation, is the closure of the vaginal opening. Its purpose is to control women’s reproductive sexuality. Controlling the Pharaohs’ descendants seems to have been the original historical motivation. The reopening is also traumatic, at the time of marriage, and is followed by a new closure until childbirth. This process is then repeated. The ancestor of the pill, in a way; a more traumatic version and one that is completely beyond the control of the main person involved.
Contrary to infibulation, the purpose of circumcision is to control the ability of women to achieve sexual pleasure. From a functional perspective, it is in some ways the equivalent of castration.
The circumcisers continue to play an important social role. As sort of traditional nurses, rooted in a world that combines shamanic rituals with Islam, their successful re-purposing in other lucrative activities remains a key factor in the success of the fight against female circumcision.
Using his wealth of experience, Dr Vàradi began teaching his repair approach, in particular to African doctors.
While circumcision is practiced in Egypt today, throughout sub-Saharan Africa and among immigrant populations from these countries, female circumcision was practiced in Europe and America until the late nineteenth century in a medical context to treat hypothetical diseases.
If, as the French song goes, “la femme est l’avenir de l’homme” (“woman is the future of man”), how many more young girls must be mutilated before men can allay their ancestral fears of women?
Through the Swiss & Love Association, Dr Vàradi’s goal is to restore circumcised women’s feminine identity and access to pleasure. Pleasure and happiness in body and in love.