Just another WordPress.com site

Before this breast band, my mother used the grinding stone heated in the fire to massage my chest. Every night my mother examines my chest (and) massages me, sometimes with the pestle. Although I cry hard because of the pain, mother tells me; Endure m daughter, you are young and there is no point in having breasts at your age.”

– Josaine Matia, 11 years old (Yaounde, Cameroon).

Breast ironing is a traditional practice where the mother massages the breasts of the girls in order to postpone their development to discourage unwanted male attention, rape or pre-material pregnancy. The tools used are usually a stone, hammer or a spatula that has been heated over coals. Other instruments are also wooden pestle used for pounding tubers in the kitchen and heated bananas and coconut shells. But the ironic part is that young Cameroonian girls are still getting pregnant at an early age such as 15 and the child usually dies at birth.

Youths make up 5,5% of the population with HIV and teenage pregnancy is increasing. Among the 200 different ethnic groups with different customs and traditions, the all have breast ironing in common. In an attempt to make their daughters less attractive to boys, mothers are ironing their breasts with hot objects to prevent them from developing but it’s unfortunately with the dietary habits improving in the country the last 50 years, girls has started to reach puberty as young as 9 years old.

Consequences

Breast ironing can lead to numerous physical issues such as depression, but also burns and deformations, and there are the risk of breast cancer and cysts. It is not only extremely painful but it also causes tissue damage, which can create difficulties with breastfeeding.

If a medical doctor can determine that damage has been caused to the breasts within a few months, the perpetrators can risk up to 3 years in prison. The mothers however defend themselves that they do it out of love.

Despite the problems caused by practice of “ironing breasts”, it has not yet been banned by authorities. “The Ministry for the Promotion of Women and the Family encourages in efforts to make parents aware of the dangers of the practice. Their aim is to encourage the authorities to come up with a law in the parliament to outlaw the practice. The more educated and exposed a woman is, the less likely she is to be convinced that it is the solution and they will most likely not perform it on their daughters.

Some numbers;

*Breast ironing appears to be most widely-practiced in Cameroon. It’s more common in the Christian and animist south of the country than the Muslim north, where only 10% of women are affected.

*It also occurs in Guinea-Bissau, West and Central Africa, including Chad, Togo, Benin, Guinea-Conakry.

*Some 24% of girls in Cameroon, about 1 girl in 4, undergo breast ironing.

*Breast ironing occurs extensively in the 10 provinces throughout Cameroon.

*A sample survey published in January 2006 of 5000 girls and women aged between 10 and 82 in Cameroon, estimates that 4 million women had suffered the process.

*Today, 3.8 million teenagers are threatened with the practice.

*Up to 53% of women and girls interviewed in the coastal Littoral province in the southeast, where the country’s main port, Douala, is situated, admit to having had their breasts ‘ironed’.

*More than half (58%) of cases breast ironing were undertaken by mothers. Other relatives also participate.

Sources; German Development Assistant GTZ

Comments on: "Harmful practices to the female body; Part 5 Breast Ironing in Cameroon" (5)

  1. Your paper really is helpful to me. You have different opinions in a similar things. The paper you have issued is what My organization is thinking about, so I hope that you can issue more great papers like that. I will continue to focus done to you.

  2. I was more than happy to find this web-site.I wished to thanks on your time for this wonderful read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you weblog post.

  3. Good blog, I am going to spend more time learning about this topic

  4. I dugg some of you post as I thought they were handy handy cpanel vps | virtual private server |

  5. Anonymous said:

    Strange, I am a Cameroonian (36yrs), but never heard of this before. Maybe since it is a womans thing, men are kept out of it. But I witnessed instead the opposite of this story when I was young.
    We fetched water from a spring in our quarter in the village, and even bath near it. I was told and later saw it one day, how a you girl of about 12yrs caught a small black insect called ( kakaboby) and placed it on her breast till it bits it. The reason is, she wants a big nipple. So as it happened, we saw how the breast got swollen around the nipple, but I do not know for how long it lasted.
    So some try to slow the breast growth, and others try to modify it. All of these methods I think lead to some future breast problems. I was about 9yrs by then, I wish I could know how the lady is today, if still living.

    Lets save our people from harmful practices.
    Thank you

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: