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Budding Breasts

With long black hair, a slender body, ebony skin and immaculate white set of teeth, Aline`s beauty was obvious to every casual observer. She was pretty and intelligent. She had just turned twelve, grandma kept an eye on her developing breasts and ripening beauty. She kept saying Aline would soon start attracting men and get pregnant before getting married if nothing is done to those breasts. Each time I approached grandma she would look at my chest closely and ask if I have seen my flower and I would ask ‘’which flower’’? she always told me me, I would know when I see it, and should tell her so she can ‘’fix’’ me. I remember a certain Friday when I visited, I met Aline on a stool near the fire, shedding tears. She had a loin tied above her breasts. She refused to tell me the source of her pain and kept her eyes fixed on grandma, when I inquired. The smaller stone with which grandma used to grind pepper, was lying near the fire together with her pestle

One day, as I approached grandma`s hut, there was unusual silence but for the chirping of birds and the flowing sound of a nearby river. Grandma’s hut was locked. I heard another sound; it was Aline,groaning in pains! I peeped through a small hole on the wall of the hut, there was grandma, pressing Aline`s breast with her grinding stone and hot coconut shells. God! Why was she doing this? I got to understand why my beautiful cousin had changed completely; because grandma was ‘’fixing’’ her! she was always unhappy and moved with her arms covering her breast. Her once glowing beauty was gradually fading away. She refused schooling that year and got pregnant few years after.

When my breasts started shooting, I was determined not to let anyone ‘’fix ‘me and threatened to ‘’fix’’ grandma also if she dared to touch me. I loved and respected my grandmother, but could not understand how hurting me that terribly, would fix me. I obeyed every of grandma`s instructions to the fullest and satisfied her with my brilliance in school but I refused to let her ‘fix me’’. My little budding breast were painful as they ripened, I did not want them to be hurt again by grandma`s hot stone, coconut shells and pestle. Through constant resistance grandma gave up and fearfully watched me as I grew, expecting the worst to happen at any time. Ironically it never happened. Through the experience she had with me, she gave up breast ironing.
.
53% of girls in Cameroon have had their breasts brutally pressed or pounded with hot objects to prevent them from developing early. Practiced in all regions of Cameroon, Breast Ironing is done to prevent girls from attracting men at an early age. The extremely painful act has health and psychological consequences which contribute to the high rate of school dropout amongst girls in Cameroon. Just as breast ironing suppresses the development of budding breasts, so are women`s voices suppressed in Cameroon and around the globe. Something needs to be done!

My goal and vision is to improve the livelihood of women in my community by being the voice of the voiceless. I have created a Common Initiative Group to empower women in my area, but activities are still very timid. I would like to extend this initiative by adding a media center for women.I am convinced these goals would come to fruition through my interaction with other women who share in my vision on this site. I would like to obtain better training in Women`s Empowerment and citizen Journalism,so being a Voices Of Our Future correspondent would be an answer to this quest. My dream is to see women highly represented in decision making positions in my country and globally. This can be possible if women are empowered through access to quality education and training. We need to be empowered in order to empower! Voices Of Our Future Correspondents, is a rare opportunity to join the global fight for women`s emancipation. We are the backbone of society; we have for so long ruled in silence, It is time to make our voices heard.

"Real change in the world will only come through the power of women" Bishop Desmund Tutu

Comments

alia's picture

This is so terrible , i never

This is so terrible , i never heard about that before

thanks Lenia for this story , iam sure you can change things there because you believe in that

with love
Alia

Leina's picture

Dear Alia,

Dear Alia,
Thanks for reacting to this.Sorry for the delay in replying,I had some difficulties with internet connections.We are hopeful for a change.

olutosin's picture

I will sahre this friend!

I know this practice, it is worth sharing.
Welldone Girl.

Olutosin Oladosu Adebowale
Founder/Project Coordinator
Star of Hope Transformation Centre
512 Road
F Close
Festac Town
Lagos-Nigeria

https:

Leina's picture

Dear Olutosin,I`m grateful

Dear Olutosin,I`m grateful you appreciated this.Sorry for replying this late,I had difficulties with internet.

dg.vegas's picture

I did not know this was

I did not know this was happening! Your work is very much needed! And you are so true is in woman's hands, This has to stop! Mothers have to stop it! I wish I could help, I hope it helps that I chear for you!

Leina's picture

Dear dg vegas,

Dear dg vegas,
I am thankful you loved the write up.Thanks for giving an ear.

Pushpa Achanta's picture

'Fixing' breasts

Dear Leina,

Thanks for inspiring us with your bravery in opposing your grandma and also sharing this story. All strength to you girl!

Love, joy and peace,
Pushpa

Leina's picture

Dear Pushpa,thanks for

Dear Pushpa,thanks for encouraging.

AchiengNas's picture

Great Voice!

Leina, I had never heard of such! When I was reading your story I felt as though they were my own breasts. What a pain girls go through in Cameroon! Go girl, Save the girls we are here for you!

I believe everybody has the potential to live a better life. Given the Opportunity, Education and Motivation ANYONE can become someone admirable. Nobody is a NOBODY, everybody is SOMEBODY.

Leina's picture

Dear Acheinga,Thanks for

Dear Acheinga,Thanks for feeling the pain.It`s compassion that moves action.

vivian's picture

This is strange

The is new and strange to me, never heard of such. This is abuse of girls' rights. I can't really imagine what kind of pain this will inflect on them. something have to be done truly like you said to save allot of girls from this experience. Do your best..............to save lives

Vivian

''Every woman have a story at every stage of Life''

Leina's picture

Hello Vivian,Thanks for

Hello Vivian,Thanks for joining your voice.I am happy we are there for one another.

Thank you so much, Leina, for your message -- with information completely new to me -- which was astounding. But with your story of persistent empowerment, respect for your grandmother, and nonviolent approach -- you changed the message to one of hope.

Bravo to you!

Anna

Speaking my Peace

Leina's picture

Dear one of many,

Dear one of many,
Thank you for encouraging me,and for encouraging non violent approach,which in my opinion is very premodial in this struggle.

Thank you so much, Leina, for your message -- with information completely new to me -- which was astounding. But with your story of persistent empowerment, respect for your grandmother, and nonviolent approach -- you changed the message to one of hope.

Bravo to you!

Anna

Speaking my Peace

Leina's picture

Dear one of many,

Dear one of many,
Thank you for encouraging me,and for encouraging non violent approach,which in my opinion is very premodial in this struggle.

Nelly Bassily's picture

You ARE the change Dear Leina!

Dearest Leina,

Wow...I can't believe how strong you are! You are definitely an incontestable voice for change. I'm so impressed with your courage my dear. I have to tell you, it is not the first time I hear of breast ironing. In fact, I still twinge every time I even hear these two words pronounced together. And, that's just because when I first started working with the NGO Farm Radio International, I had to translate (from English to French) a radio script on that very subject written by a radio broadcaster in Cameroon for Farm Radio International.
I'm so glad you wrote: "I have created a Common Initiative Group to empower women in my area, but activities are still very timid. I would like to extend this initiative by adding a media center for women."

That's so fantastic. Inform and education = powerful women. If this script, "Local groups in Cameroon work to eradicate 'breast ironing'" http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/82-10script_en.asp can help you in anyway...please do use it as you see fit :)

Thanks so much for sharing your very personal story with us,
-Nelly

Nelly Bassily
"We must become the change we want to see in the world"
(Mahatma Gandhi)

Leina's picture

Dear Nelly,just to thnak you

Dear Nelly,just to thnak you for your encouraging statement and wonderful piece of info.I`ll be glad to contribute my own quota in eradicating the practise.Im glad you are a media practitioner,you`d obviously have some useful advice of how the media center can come to fruition,I`ll be very grateful if you could give me some advice.
Best wishes
Leina

Nusrat Ara's picture

Dear Leina, I had never heard

Dear Leina,

I had never heard of this. This is so shocking. Thanks for bringing this up.

I am happy and impressed that you made your grandmother to chnage her perspective, that means a lot.

Continue to write. You have got a platform here. We are all here to listen and support you.

Love

Nusrat

Leina's picture

Dear Nusrat,

Dear Nusrat,
I`m happy you found this interesting and that you are there to listen.It`s comforting and encouraging
LOVE

noreens's picture

terrible

It's terrible that this subject has not been brought to the attention of the world. I also never heard about it. Thanks for your story and for educating us about this awful practice. I just can not imagine the pain............or the justification.

Terrible!

I wish you the best of luck,
Noreen

Leina's picture

Dear Noreen

Dear Noreen
Thanks for joining your voice.It encourages. breast ironing is indeed a painful act.
Cheers!
Leina

nureendas's picture

Lenia - you are a powerful

Lenia - you are a powerful storyteller and I wish you ever success as you continue to grow the Common Initiative Group. Thank you for sharing your story.
Nureen.

Leina's picture

Dear Nureendas,I am thankful

Dear Nureendas,I am thankful for your words of encouragement.I would be grateful to have you partner in the Common Initiative Group.
Best wishes
Leina

ariniaina's picture

Congrats

Oh dear, I feel so sorry for Aline and all these girls in your country. Not letting your grandma "fix" you was really courageous and I'd like to congratulate you for that. I sincerely believe that you will succeed in every step you will take.

Best,

Ariniaina

Thanks for visiting my blog http://ariniaina.wordpress.com

Leina's picture

Thanks dear Ariana,

Thanks dear Ariana,
I`m so thankful for the encouragement.Together we can work for change.

marissabrodney's picture

Thank you for telling this story

Dear Leina,

I have never heard a story like this one before, and you have opened my eyes - thank you for sharing. I think your efforts to publicize this issue and empower women are incredibly admirable, and I can tell you that you certainly touched me. You are very brave, and I wish you the best of luck!

-Marissa

Leina's picture

Dear Marissa,So grateful for

Dear Marissa,So grateful for your support.I`m happy you learnt something new.I count on your support.

Jocelynbrazil's picture

Such a powerful storyteller

Leina,
I was deeply moved by your storytelling ability as well as your clear articulation of your vision. Thank you for both. I look forward to hearing updates on everything you are doing!
With love,
Jocelyn

Leina's picture

Dear Joycelyn,

Dear Joycelyn,
I am grateful for your encouragement.I count on your support.
Love
Leina

The Afrika way's picture

Just when I think I have seen

Just when I think I have seen it and heard it all. I have never heard of this hideous act of breast ironing. My goodness....

The obsessive need to control the woman's sexuality.....Patriarchal notions that define a woman based on her sexual performances...eish! The burden of the woman/girl; the pain and agony of being a woman/girl; the eternal communal gaze; they are just girls!!!!! ...wow, why?

When will the woman be allowed to find pleasure in her body?

You should see my face now; I am totally shaken by this story.

We need to be radical to be liberated!!!!!!!

The Afrika way's picture

Oh! I forgot to say.....you

Oh! I forgot to say.....you are a good story teller. You write very well!

Leina's picture

Thank you dear sister, for

Thank you dear sister, for reading through.It`s indeed sad what women are forced to go through.We shall overcome.

Sheena1's picture

Hi Leina. This is a really

Hi Leina.

This is a really saddening story - and very beautifully written. I hope the situation in Cameroon is changing now, because the thought of this is quite unbearable.

Kudos to you for taking the unique path!

Love,
Sheena.

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