Those dang Raelians, at it again.
Back in 2002, the UFO-based sex cult headed by Las Vegas-based Claude Vorilhon (aka Rael) created a media brouhaha/hee-hee when Raelian chemist Bridgette Boisselier announced that she had cloned a human baby named Eve. With neither science nor baby to back up Boisselier's claims, the scandal eventually blew over, but not before the media got duped, then had a field day exposing the group's New Age smorgasbord of freewheeling sex practices, UFO-based cosmology and a self-appointed messiah who recommended a 1 percent tithe to his cause. In the end, most decided that the whole episode had been hype in the service of Clonaid, a "company" founded by Rael to support human cloning. Stemaid, an equally outlandish Raelian Web site, claims to offer "stem cell therapy" to cure everything from Parkinson's disease to lupus.
Now Vorilhon seems to have broken new ground in perversity with the launch of Clitoraid.org (brought to our attention by Boing Boing). Under the cheesy slogan "Restoring a Sense of Pleasure," the site allows charitable individuals to "adopt a clitoris" and fund restorative surgery for an African woman who has suffered genital mutilation. Featuring glowing pictures of African women and their seemingly heartfelt testimonials about having their pleasure centers surgically restored, the site tells a rosy tale of Rael's commitment to building a "Pleasure Hospital" to cure all the mutilated women of Africa.
Unfortunately (though not surprisingly), the claims seem to be trumped up. "At best it's misguided," says independent researcher Hanny Lightfoot-Klein, who has spent 27 years investigating female genital mutilation and has written three books on the subject. "At worst it's a way to make money. This is not good."
Lightfoot-Klein explains that even if Rael has sincerely traveled to Africa and paid for the surgery of a couple of women, the whole undertaking is dangerously oversimplifying the issue. "It's not really that simple," she explains. "There's not necessarily a stump of a clitoris to be restored. Any surgery there will often lead to flashback anxiety, depression. The whole thing is so foolish, I can't take it seriously. What does that leave? A moneymaking scam where you appeal to people's guilt promising to make these women whole again, freed from this terrible thing. This is nonsense."