Breast Ironing in Cameroon – Part 1

March 12th, 2012 by | No Comment |

Ever heard of a society so hostile that mothers have to iron their daughter’s breasts in order to decrease their sexual appeal and therefore save them from being raped? This is the story of the torture that female children of Cameroon have to bear.


The procedure contains placing hot stones on the developing breasts of girls, ranged from ages of 8 to 12. Sometimes cereal mash sticks, sometimes other flat objects are used, but burning is always part of the torturous procedure.


One in every four girls in Cameroon suffers from breast ironing. Mothers or other female relatives are responsible to practice with the belief that breast growth reduces their daughter’s sex appeal and therefore, keeps them away from sexual relations, consensual
or not. To them they are protecting their daughters from the lustful eyes of men and also avoiding unwanted pregnancies.


They press hard on small breasts as they begin to develop. The child’s little body undergoes the pain of these attacks, the damage tissue, the injuries, abscesses, infections and could predispose to cancer. Day after day, until the desired result.


Sometimes the medium of choice is the hot cloth bandage. Usually several months of torture. It is an ancient tradition in parts of West Africa and better known in the case of Cameroon, a country that borders the 20 million inhabitants.


This form of "female mutilation" as the official agency rates the German cooperation GTZ, which has played a pioneering role in revealing this practice and combat, the experience at least 24% of women in Cameroon, according to the agency.


A begin earlier, higher risk. "The sooner you start to develop the chest, more likely to suffer this form of mutilation. Half of the girls whose breasts begin to develop before the age of nine ironing suffer," said a work of GTZ, 2007.The Department of State
United States, a report on human rights in this African country in 2010, echoes the problem in similar terms, adding that this practice "causes burns, deformities and psychological problems."

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