About Breast Ironing
Breast ironing which is also known as the “breast flattening”, refers to the
massaging and pounding of the girl's breasts of the pubescent period, using the
heated or the hard object, it is tried to either stop them from developing or to
get disappear. It is carried out by the “misguided intention” of the close
female of the victim, traditionally done by a grandmother, mother, aunt, or any
female guardian. According to the United Nation, it is performed to protect the
girl from the rape and sexual harassment and to prevent the early pregnancy
which could corrode the family name and reputation. This allows females to
pursue education instead of forcing them for early marriage.
Where Does It Happen
Breast ironing is common in West and Central Africa, including Guinea-Bissau,
Chad, Togo, Benin, Guinea-Conakry, Côte d'Ivoire, Kenya and Zimbabwe and it's
particularly prevalent in Cameroon: there, the number of girls who have been
subjected to breast, ironing is estimated to be as high as one in three (around
According to the United Nation's worldwide data, 3.8 million teenagers have been
affected by breast flattening. At least 1000 girls from the west African
community of the UNITED KINGDOM have been subjected.
Health Consequence Of Breast Ironing
The use of hard objects and their force and lack of aftercare may develop
some serious health conditions like:
- Tissues damage
- Discharge of milk
- Severe fever
- Dissymmetry of breasts
Socialization Of Young Girls
Breast ironing has been an embedded part of the socialization of young girls
from affected communities for quite some time.
The growth of a girl's breasts during puberty is seen as linked to the emergence
of her sexuality; if left unchecked, this will bring “problematic” and
“destructive” implications for family and community status quo (patriarchy).
However, if we go by the research it suggests that the African mothers perform
this to prevent the early marriages of their daughters and keep them longer for
schooling. The mentality of the females shows the view that if the breasts were
held back from the development then it cannot be viewed for the rapes and sexual
harassment. However, their medical consequence is ignored.
Law Against Breast Ironing
There is no specific law regarding breast flattening within the UK and no one
has even ever prosecuted for regulating such practice. Breast ironing is totally
“illegal and child abuse”. The child is at risk of suffering physical and mental
damage. This is a complex issue which is needed to be solved.
A Global Problem
A statement by the breast flattening survivor - “My mother took a pestle, she
warmed it well in the fire and then she used it to pound my breasts while I was
lying down then she took the back of a coconut, warmed it in the fire and used
it to iron the breasts. I was crying and trembling to escape but there was no
Just a wonder such practice still get regulated somewhere in this world, where
everyone is so educated and live such a modern lifestyle.
The breast ironing is situated with the ideology which looks the sexuality as
shameful, which is denied and hidden. In the UK there runs a social movement
called “The Girls Generation” for changing the social norms and social mindset.
Still, this is a global problem. The focus needs to be put on the underlying
inequalities which devalue the female body. Prohibition of such practices may
hopefully bring new life and values to females.
It is a harmful cultural practice around the world that doesn't get sufficient
attention. Directly it's a child abusive practice that ultimately reflects the
female submissiveness and the complete control over female sexuality. There are
still a million people in this world who don't have a little thought about such
harmful regulation. Such practice needs to get the awareness of the people and
the government needs to take some action for its prohibition.
The female puberty is needed to be cherished but not to be held in the
vulnerable hands. Ironing the breast is not the solution to prevent sexual
harassment and rape against them.
Thousands of girls have been subjected to such practice which just causes
cruelty towards them and this needed to get the stop. A female body is not a
shame. The Female body is so beautiful in whichever manner it is formed by the
almighty. No one should be given much power which could diminish its shine and
beauty. Everybody is beautiful and needed to be protected.