Skip to comments.Breast ironing: grim secret of Africa's women
Posted on 07/06/2006 12:06:59 PM PDT by wagglebee
WORRIED that her daughters' budding breasts would expose them to the risk of sexual harassment and even rape, Philomene Moungang started "ironing" the girls' bosoms with a heated stone.
"I did it to my two girls when they were eight years old. I would take the grinding stone, heat it in the fire and press it hard on the breasts," the mother said. "They cried and said it was painful. But I explained that it was for their own good."
Breast "ironing" - the use of hard or heated objects to try to stunt breast growth in girls - is a traditional practice in West Africa, experts say.
A new survey has revealed it is shockingly widespread in Cameroon, where one in four teenagers are subjected to the traumatic process by relatives, often hoping to lessen their sexual attractiveness.
"Breast ironing is an age-old practice in Cameroon, as well as in many other countries in west and central Africa, including Chad, Togo, Benin, Guinea-Conakry, just to name a few," said Flavien Ndonko, an anthropologist for GTZ, a German development agency which sponsored the survey.
"If society has been silent about it up to now it is because, like other harmful practices done to women such as female genital mutilation, it was thought to be good for the girl," Dr Ndonko said. "Even the victims themselves thought it was good for them."
The practice has many side-effects, including severe pain and abscesses, infections, breast cancer, and even the complete disappearance of one or both breasts.
The survey of 5000 girls and women aged between 10 and 82 from Cameroon, published last month, estimated that 4 million women had suffered the process.
"When I was growing up as a little girl, my mother did it to me just as all other women in the village did it to their girl children," Mrs Moungang said. "So I thought it was just good for me to do to my own children."
The practice was less common in rural areas because mothers feared their children could be more exposed to sex abuse in towns and tried to suppress signs of sexuality, the survey said.
The practice is most common in the Christian and animist south of the country, rather than in the Muslim North and Far North provinces, where only 10 per cent of women are affected.
In 58 per cent of cases breast ironing was carried out by mothers, the survey found.
Many mothers were alarmed because improvements in nutrition and living conditions had caused young girls' breasts to develop earlier than ever.
The survey prompted a campaign to educate mothers about the practice's dangers. A similar campaign helped to reduce rates of female genital mutilation in Cameroon.
must be proud of her breasts because they are natural," said a campaign leaflet. "They are a gift from God. Allow the breasts to grow naturally. Do not force them to disappear or appear."
That's exactly right.
LOL! Or *butt watchers*, either!
This story is beyond horrid. I knew about clitoral mutilations, but not this....what sort of backwards freaks even think to do that?
"This story is beyond horrid. I knew about clitoral mutilations, but not this....what sort of backwards freaks even think to do that?"
Q: How awful! How do they ever feed their babies?
Christian chriches do not have the threat of the sword behind them to enforce Christian morality.
"Why would I be a 'leg man'? I HAVE legs."
Indeed. The Western concept of the worth of the individual is based upon the Judaic tradition as transmitted through Christianity. Unfortunately, Western culture has greatly rejected its tradition of self-respect (personal modesty), and has sexualized its children.
chriches = churches
AMEN! It calls to mind how many mommies take their little girls to Glamor Shots, paint them up, friz their hair, have them pout suggestively into the camera, and shoot pictures of them.
It disgusts me to see a child painted up like a hooker.
Sure, you see, the Northern Muslims only mutilate female genitals...none of this dizgusting 'breast ironing' business. (/src)
What bothers me if little 4 and 5 year old girls wearing belly shirts and little shorts or pants with words written across their bum. Why?
I gladly use that crutch. All the time.
What bothers me is little 4 and 5 year old girls wearing belly shirts and little shorts or pants with words written across their bum. Why?
Where are our feminist? Resting and feeling smug in their glass towers? Where's Laura Bush? She spoke out for Afghani women ruled by the taliban.
Which is appropriate, since man is irrevocably broken by sin. Though Christ is the great physician, he has left the community of believers to minister to one another until his return.
People don't understand the responsibilities of parenthood. They think their children are extensions of themselves and they are guided by popular culture instead of traditional morality (as taught by the Church). They don't allow their children to be children by protecting them from the sexualization rampant in secular culture.
Because their parents are a) lazy, b) trashy, or c) their daughter's "best friend."