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"Breast Ironing" a veracity in the Cameroonian society;my experience.

“My aunt and my mother pounded my chest every day when I was barely 10 years old. I cried ceaselessly and could not stop thinking of abandoning school and running away from home. Up till now I get flash backs about the ironing and my heart beats so fast every time this happens" Miranda Lum, a member of Bafut Women’s association in Bamenda Cameroon, recalls the distressing memory of undergoing 'breast ironing' to her fellow group members during a sensitization Campaign by Gender Danger, a women’s rights organization.

Breast ironing, is a traditional practice carried out in parts of Cameroon, and also in some regions of West and Central Africa, which involves massaging or pressing the breasts of adolescent girls in order to subdue and reverse their development. The practice, which commonly involves using heated objects- often spatulas, stones and pestles is performed often times by women in the belief that a plane, child-like chest will discourage unwanted male attention, rape and pre-martial pregnancy.

It was an amazing experience to spread the message to women about the practice of breast ironing and its disadvantages to women. From face view, it appeared as if breast ironing is a practice that is fading away in the Cameroonian society and mostly practiced in the rural areas. Surprising, during my encounter with this women’s group I discovered that breast ironing is still REAL and practiced in the Cameroonian society. Female teachers testified of having lots of victims as pupils in schools where they teach. Mothers confessed of ignorantly using breast ironing as a means of preserving the innocence of their children.
Beyond the pain and trauma caused by breast ironing, there are a serious number of physical and mental health implications: the most serious include an elevated cancer risk, the inability to produce breast-milk, and psychological problems. Miranda told her group members that she now suffers from insensitivity in her breasts, which is affecting her emotional and love live with her husband and questions whether her condition is related to breast ironing which she is a victim of.

Other women who had equally been subject to the practice asked sensitizers if breast ironing was responsible for their inability to produce enough milk while nursing their babies.

The Presenters from “Gender Danger” encouraged the empowerment of all women, by raising the necessity of teaching sex education. Their viewpoint behind sex education is that an educated woman will counsel their girl children about their sexuality, rather than subject them to such bodily mutilation. Today, many mothers in Cameroon still find it difficult to discuss openly with their daughters about sexuality. The women of the Bafut Women’s association in Cameroon were very impressed to have information on this topical issue which they experienced. Most of the women resolved to be very open with their children, to talk sexuality with them and sensitize other women on breast ironing and its associated disadvantage.

Gender Danger is making tireless efforts in reaching out to women in every nook and cranny in a bid to open discussions about this silent killer of women.

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Comments

Sherna Alexander's picture

Wow

I am truly thankful for this article as it opened my eyes and edified me on a point I was not aware off.
Thank you for sharing.

"Breaking the Silence is not a popular choice, it is the right choice"
https://m.facebook.com/OabiOrganization
"There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest."
Elie Wiesel

The relevant government agency should start a campaign to teach the adults women the relevant knowledge.

Without an authority to stop this traditional act, the practise may just passed down from one generation to another and to be done by close female family members on another, without really knowing the negative side effects of doing so, innocently only thinking of the the supposedly purpose of why they have to do it.

olutosin's picture

We love our breasts

We feed the world with out breast.

We love our breast. we say no more to breast ironing and all forms of violence against women.

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

https:

Safecity's picture

Horrifying practice

Thank you for posting. I was not aware of this horrific practice. It is so distressing to think what those women and young girls are going through or have went through. My heart goes out to them. They need to have this practice stopped immediately and we need to provide them with help to deal with it.

Keep up the good work.
Elsa

Safecity's picture

Horrifying practice

Thank you for posting. I was not aware of this horrific practice. It is so distressing to think what those women and young girls are going through or have went through. My heart goes out to them. They need to have this practice stopped immediately and we need to provide them with help to deal with it.

Keep up the good work.
Elsa

Fomuso Blessing's picture

Thanks Elsa

The act is so horrific and actually real in our society.i hope with more voices raised and some action taken we can end this.

Patti's picture

Breast ironing?

Where I come from, children were shy to start developing breasts, so they would stick insects on them to eat away the breasts. As you know, insects cannot eat breasts away. But breast ironing is a very different ballgame. Wow, you have been through a whole lot. Love your breasts - I love mine.

Fomuso Blessing's picture

YEAH i live mine too

Thanks for you comment Patti.

Fomuso-
Thank you for sharing your own story with us here. I am sorry beyond words for what you and so many have suffered and are still suffering. We must continue to work together and raise voices together to end this practice. I know it goes beyond education, beyond changing ways...it must transverse long-held beliefs to hit the heart, where true change can occur.

Standing with you-

Let us Hope together-
Michelle
aka: Cali gal

Listener
Sister-Mentor
@CaliGalMichelle
facebook.com/caligalmichelle

Fomuso Blessing's picture

ThankS Michelle

Thank you for your comment,i pray that voices raised and actions taken we would be able to curb this practice

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