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High Demand for Cameroon’s Dangerous ‘Virginity’ Stone   
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The demand for products which can restore a woman's honour by way of tightening her vagina has seen the popular sale of alum stone, a product usually used in the manufacture of aftershave and deodorant, in Cameroon's marketplaces. The stone might be effective but is said to be damaging to the vaginal area in the long run.

We all know how high the cost of beauty is.

Women in many societies go to great lengths and spend lots of money to preserve their image before men. In countries like Tunisia, doctors have had to perform hymenoplasties at the request of their patients who wanted to give their men the impressions that they were virgins. The popularity of “virginity soaps” in markets like Dubai are another example. That’s the nature of the prevailing patriarchal beast that we create and serve.

The solid incarnation of hydrated potasium aluminium sulfate or alum stone is quite a hit in the marketplaces of Cameroon where it is bought because of traditional beliefs that it can restore a woman’s virginity. It can be found in the country’s capital, Yaounde, and even in some of the most remote regions, at 1500 CFA francs (€2.2).

Despite the beliefs in it’s ‘tightening’ properties, it can cause more harm than good.

Ndangue Liliane Josiane Rose is a France24 Observer and she explained the phenomenon.

“Alum stone has different names in different regions. In the West, it’s called “wothi”, but on the coast, it’s called “loba”, which means “God’s thunder”. Women crush it into powder and mix it with water; sometimes, they add a bit of lemon juice or honey.

They then use the concoction to clean their private parts, as the stone’s powder kills bacteria. But this mixture also provokes a momentary contraction of the vagina, which can give the appearance of virginity to a woman who has already had sexual relations,” she said.

“Alum stone is most often used for this purpose in the northern regions of Cameroon, as well as in some parts of Nigeria. It’s commonly used by Hausa people [one of the largest ethnic groups in Africa]. In areas where the majority of the population is Muslim, there is a lot of pressure on women to be virgins until their wedding night. If a woman is not a virgin, she runs the risk of being shunned by her husband, and the other women in her family will also be looked down upon.”

Doctor Joseph is a gynaecologist in Yaoundé. In 2010, he worked in a clinic in northern Cameroon where he treated women suffering from health issues stemming from their use of alum stone.

“This so-called virginity is very short-lived, and sometimes the stone has no effect at all. However, its effects on a woman’s health are catastrophic,” he said.

“In general, women should not put any products in their vaginas, since vaginas have a self-cleaning mechanism. Alum stone destroys the vaginal flora that helps protect women from sexually transmitted diseases. Moreover, because the stone’s powder has the consistency of sand, it inevitably provokes irritations, which can lead to serious cases of vaginitis. Finally, if a woman uses alum stone regularly, it will cause the vagina walls to become rigid, and they can then tear when they give birth. This technique should absolutely not be used.”
Source: thisisafrica.me

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