Stealing penises is the hot new crime trend in Africa

African nations are big fans of genital mutilation and scams. So perhaps it shouldn’t be a shocker that penis stealing is a crime on the rise on the continent.

Penis thief image by Shutterstock features a column by anthropologist Louisa Lombard about the rise of the penis theft in the continent being part of a surge in the black market organ sales industry.

Notable snippets include a story about overseeing a theft from a vendor in the middle of a marketplace as it happened:

As best I could reconstruct from witness accounts, the stranger had stopped to purchase a cup of tea at the market. After handing over his money, he clasped the vendor’s hand. The tea seller felt an electric tingling course through his body and immediately sensed that his penis had shrunk to a size smaller than that of a baby’s. His yells quickly drew a crowd. Somehow in the fray a second man fell victim as well.

And a macro view on penis snatching’s current place after being a side dish for the past few decades in Africa:

In Africa today, scholars who study penis snatching understand it mainly as an urban phenomenon—an extreme expression of the anxieties that pervade a city when villagers become urbanites en masse, living among throngs of unfamiliar people. That’s because most cases have been reported in crowded spots like Lagos, in Nigeria, and Douala, in Cameroon. But here I was in Tiringoulou—a dusty, peanut-growing hamlet so small and poor it barely has a market. If penis snatching had previously been a city dweller’s fear, now it seemed that not even the remotest places would be spared.

Lombard says the penis sales industry is particularly refined in nations such as Cameroon and Nigeria where they excel in all sorts of organ trades. In the two countries, penises are regularly sold for use in “occult healing ceremonies,” then resold to other penis theft survivors in the hopes of medicine being able to restore their functionality.

Unfortunately, Lombard says, many town doctors would be unable to piece these poor folks back together.

The column is an incredibly interesting read and well worth your time. Just…cross your legs.