In Africa, people have adopted the cruel method to protect the young girls from rape and sexual harassment. Breast Ironing – the inhuman method of flattening of young girl’s developing chest. According to a UN report,
this method affects 3.8 million women around the world. The shocking part is that this practice is adopted in Cameroon, Nigeria and South Africa with the girl’s mother being the abuser in 58 per cent cases, according to the Department of Public Health Services.
In Cameroon, rich families make young girls wear a wide belt which presses the small paps in the breast and prevents them from growing.
People in these parts believe that a flat, childlike appearance will discourage unwanted attention and premarital pregnancy and prevent girls to develop their breasts between the age group of 11 and 15.
The mother often permits this ritual, removing signs of puberty, so her daughter can pursue education for longer rather than being seen as ‘ready for marriage.’
Large stones, a hammer that is been heated over the hot coals, is used to compress or mutilate the breast tissue and make the adolescent look less ‘womanly’. This picture of a young girl in which her mother is ironing the breast shocked many.
Like Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), breast ironing is another form hidden abuse which is going in different parts of Africa.
This practice is going on the name of religion, culture and tradition. London-based charity Women’s and Girl’s Development Organisation works with different agencies like police, social services, health and schools to raise awareness of breast ironing in the UK and Cameroon.
“Breast ironing is a well-kept secret between the young girl and her mother. Often the father remains completely unaware. The girl believes that what her mother is doing is for her own good and she keeps silent. This silence perpetuates the phenomenon and all of its consequences.”
Breast ironing also leads to different health problems such as cancer, abscesses, itching and discharge of mil, infection and dis-symmetry of the breasts. Girls are also likely to experience cysts, breast infections, tissue damage, severe fever, and even the completely disappearance of one or both breasts.
But many know that such an act is futile when it comes to deterring sexual activity.
FGM also stated that there are still many other forms of sexual violence being used against women around the world. “Adolescents are traumatised, mutilated. This is a serious damage not only on their physical integrity, but also on their social and psychological well being. And we must stop it.” The charity added.