Breast Ironing



By Lickle Dee

I remember being 11 almost 12 and I had started developing breasts. Because of my small frame and my preference of having more male friends than female my mother was greatly worried that I would start getting involved in sexual activities. So she invited my grandmother to come have a talk with me and take some precautions so as to preserve my womanhood as they put it. My grandmother came, spoke to me about my body changing took a cooking stick which she used to hit my developing breasts. This was meant to slow down the rate at which my breasts would grow and let’s just say I think it worked because even though I’m in my 30s I still have hope they will grow. These bee stings I have cannot be my fully developed breasts.

While that was then,the other version of that traditional practice and how it’s practiced in other African countries(breast ironing) is horrifying. The thought of it makes me cringe. Breast Ironing is a heinous practice, this insane activity involves the flattening of little-developing breasts of young girls “to protect them from rape or any sexual harassment. It’s a traditional practice where the breasts are pressed with stone,hammer or a spatula which is pre-heated on the coals to stop the breast development.

According to the report by the United Nations, this practice is widely spread in West African Countries like Cameroon,Chad, East and Central Africa. Breast ironing is one of the top 5 under reported crimes relating to Gender Based Violence.

Truth which hurts more is this tradition is majorly perpetrated by mothers of the young girls. The girls are told its for their own good,to protect them from any inappropriate sexual activities. Enforcing this cruel tradition leaves the girl traumatized. It destroys her womanhood, the very essential body part by which she is defined. Having gone through this abuse, women are prone to risks and health problems eg infections, cancer, permanent tissue damage and at times it stops the breasts development completely.

Though many organizations are working tirelessly for the awareness amongst the people, I wonder how people can punish little girls just to accommodate the lustfulness of men. Can’t they educate their men and let these girls enjoy the budding and blossoming of their bodies? Why are we constantly accepting mens ills at the expense of fellow women and children? Why don’t they punish these criminals who rape and harass these little girls instead of punishing these girls? I guess I have more questions than answers but my heart bleeds for these little girls.


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