Sunday, October 17, 2021

A Mother’s Painful Form of Love: Breast Ironing.

July 1, 2014 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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( While on the Internet I stumbled across a horrific practice known as Breast Ironing. Breast Ironing is a tradition that happens in Cameroon. Some mothers are known to use hot stones or coconut shells to flatten their daughters’ breast.

I am sure that by now many of you are familiar with Female Genital Mutilation, also known as FGM. FGM removes partially or all of the female genitailia to prevent women from having sexual feelings or in other words orgasms. Female Genital Mutilation occurs mainly in African countries, South-East Asia and some areas in Europe.BreastIroning

Breast Ironing is similar in many ways that it is also used to control a woman’s sexuality. Just like the action of Female Genital Mutilation this tradition is also one that is used to dehumanize females. Breast Ironing which is the flattening of the breast heavily occurs in the Cameroon.

Young girls find themselves forced to endure the pain burned in an attempt to flatten their breasts so as to keep the opposite sex at bay. As stated by one mother flatter breast will keep the boys away, discouraging them from running after her daughter.

This practice is said to be done out of love. Mothers who want their children to finish school before becoming parents have resorted to this drastic measure, and many see nothing wrong with it. Supposedly removing all things that may cause sexuality can allow them to focus on their education and is a means of saving them from themselves.

This has been called tradition by some. However, tradition or not, it simply is not right to have such control over a woman’s body. To take away her pleasure and to allow only men to have pleasure is dehumanizing and another form of slavery in my opinion.

There are a number of groups that are working feverishly at counteracting and preventing this practice. Friends of the United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA) considers this practice a human rights violation more than a tradition, simply because it hurts our young women and girls.

Out of the more than 200 ethnic groups in Cameroon with different norms and customs, breast ironing is practiced by all of them. The biggest challenge lying ahead is reaching parents in the villages of Cameroon and educating them on the horrible physical and mental problems due to this painful and horrific practice.

Trying to reach the mothers before the ritual takes place is difficult due to the motivation of confused love that shatters more lives than it saves.

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Staff Writer; Eleanie Campbell

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