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Labia Elongation or labia pulling has been practised in many parts of Africa for many centuries. The early recordings of the results of the practice are perhaps among the Khoisan peoples of southern Africa, where the inner labia were seen to be several centimetres longer than the outer labia. In Zimbabwe the practice is not done to such extremes, but there is a general view among women of certain tribes that the inner labia need to be longer than they would be naturally.
The amount of elongation varies from woman to woman.
The general belief (in Zimbabwe at least) is that elongated inner labia swell more during sexual excitement, and in doing so, provide a much bigger surface area for penile friction during coitus. They also swell inwards partially blocking the entrance to the vagina.
The process of elongating is part of the transformation from a girl to a woman, a rite of passage.
Many western writers[who?] have compared this practice to FGC. There are marked differences and FGC primarily involves an attempt to forcibly reduce a girl’s sexual desire while LE is an attempt to enhance it as much as possible. In some cultures where LE is practised, they also elongate the clitoris.
Labia elongation is mostly done by the children and young ladies themselves, singly or communally.
The practice of LE itself does not precipitate sexually transmitted infections (including HIV). Such infections generally occur later in life through sexual activity. The biggest factor is the promiscuity of Zimbabwean husbands, making it dangerous for women to be married. In an attempt to effect complete social engineering, by women with other agendas, some writers have asserted that there is a causal link between LE and rates of infection.