Ouagadougou - A UFO cult is behind Africa's first clitoral restoration hospital in Burkina Faso, set to open in March, which will offer a controversial surgery to victims of female genital mutilation.
The Raelian sect believes that humans were created by extra-terrestrials to experience joy. It promotes world peace, democracy -- and sexual satisfaction.
This mission has led them to actively campaign against female genital mutilation (FGM), and to back a clinic in San Francisco, offering a controversial reconstructive surgery for victims.
Its surgeons claim they can restore sexual feeling and orgasms to victims, although the results remain contested by some doctors.
Now the movement is bringing their work to Burkina Faso, with a new center in the southern town of Bobo-Dioulasso due to open on March 7.
The center is called the Kamkazo, or "the house for women", but is nicknamed "the Pleasure Hospital".
It has been built by Clitoraid, an NGO set up by Raelians to campaign for an end to FGM. It says it has financed the hospital with donations from private individuals. The total cost has not been revealed.
"The idea comes from the Raelian movement, but they are not the financiers. Clitoraid is a non-profit association in which both Raelians and non-Raelians work," Abibata Sanon, who is part of the project team, told AFP.
Nadine Gary, communications director at Clitoraid, as well as being a Raelian and a surgeon at the San Francisco clinic, said the operations "will restore their dignity as women as well as their ability to experience physical pleasure, which was taken from them against their will."
The operations, which last about 45 minutes, will be free of charge.
There are already 300 women on the waiting list, coming from Kenya, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Senegal, Mali, Ivory Coast -- "everywhere that female genital mutilation is practiced," Sanon said.
The Raelian movement was founded in the 1970s by Claude Vorilhon following his "encounter" with extra-terrestrials.
The movement found several followers in Canada, and made headlines in 2002 when it claimed to have cloned a human being.
The World Health Organization estimates that between 100 million and 140 million women have been victims of genital mutilation worldwide.
It is most prevalent in northeast and west Africa, particularly "excision", in which the clitoris and labia are removed.
The number of victims has fallen in Burkina Faso since genital mutilation was banned in 1996, but a study in 2010 found that 58 percent of girls have suffered from the practice.