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'Breast ironing' to stunt girls' growth ?

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Hum    6,933

YAOUNDE, Cameroon (Reuters) -- Worried that her daughters' budding breasts would expose them to the risk of sexual harassment and even rape, their mother Philomene Moungang started 'ironing' the girls' bosoms with a heated stone.

"I did it to my two girls when they were eight years old. I would take the grinding stone, heat it in the fire and press it hard on the breasts," :| Moungang said.

"They cried and said it was painful. But I explained that it was for their own good."

"Breast ironing" -- the use of hard or heated objects or other substances to try to stunt breast growth in girls -- is a traditional practice in West Africa, experts say.

A new survey has revealed it is shockingly widespread in Cameroon, where one in four teenagers are subjected to the traumatic process by relatives, often hoping to lessen their sexual attractiveness.

"Breast ironing is an age-old practice in Cameroon, as well as in many other countries in West and Central Africa, including Chad, Togo, Benin, Guinea-Conakry, just to name a few," said Flavien Ndonko, an anthropologist and local representative of German development agency GTZ, which sponsored the survey.

"If society has been silent about it up to now it is because, like other harmful practices done to women such as female genital mutilation, it was thought to be good for the girl," said Ndonko.

"Even the victims themselves thought it was good for them."

However, the practice has many side-effects, including severe pain and abscesses, infections, breast cancer, and even the complete disappearance of one or both breasts.

The survey of more than 5,000 girls and women aged between 10 and 82 from throughout Cameroon, published last month, estimated that 4 million women in the central African country have suffered the process.

"You ask me why I did it?" said Moungang. "When I was growing up as a little girl my mother did it to me just as all other women in the village did it to their girl children. So I thought it was just good for me to do to my own children."

The practice is now more common in urban areas than in villages, because mothers fear their children could be more exposed to sexual abuse in towns and try to suppress outward signs of sexuality, the survey said.

Its findings have prompted a nationwide campaign to educate mothers about its dangers and to try to eradicate it. A similar campaign some years ago helped drastically to reduce rates of female genital mutilation in Cameroon.

"A girl...has to be proud of her breasts because it is natural. It is a gift from God. Allow the breasts to grow naturally. Do not force them to disappear or appear," said a leaflet from the campaign.

Moungang said she stopped ironing her daughters' breasts after one girl developed blisters and abscesses.

"I took her to the hospital and the doctor scolded me and advised never to do it again because it could ruin my daughter," she said.

"When Mariane married and delivered her first baby, it took a long time -- about a month -- for her breasts to start producing milk and the child almost died. I was told it was because I had ironed her breasts. I was frightened."

The younger a girl develops, the more likely she is to have her bosom ironed -- 38 percent of girls developing breasts under the age of 11 had undergone the procedure.

The practice is most common in the Christian and animist South of the country, rather than in the Muslim North and Far North provinces, where only 10 percent of women are affected.

The survey found that in 58 percent of cases breast ironing was carried out by mothers worried that the onset of puberty could provoke sexual harassment, inhibit their daughters' studies or even stunt their growth.

Many mothers were alarmed because an improvement in nutrition and living conditions had caused young girls' breasts to develop earlier than ever.

"Massaging the breasts with hot objects is painful, very painful, and can completely destroy the breasts," said Bessem Ebanga, executive secretary of women's rights group RENATA, herself a former victim.

"Some girls could be traumatized throughout their lives and their sexual behavior could be disturbed forever."

Thirteen-year-old Geraldine Mbafor could not hold back her tears as she narrated her ordeal.

"I had just finished doing my homework when my mother summoned me to the kitchen. She boiled water and in the water she put a grinding stone. She then removed the stone holding it with a thick cloth to protect her hands, and placed it my breasts and started ironing them," she stated.

"I felt so much pains that I started crying. After that she bandaged my breasts with a band called breast-band ... She did this to me for two and a half months."

According to 14-year-old Amelia, who would not give her family name, her breasts started developing when she was 9. Her elder sister decided to massage them every evening with a towel soaked in hot water.

"This was very painful, and every evening before I slept, she would put a big elastic belt well fastened round my chest to flatten my breasts."

"Six months later the flesh that held my breasts was already weak. At 10, I already had fallen breasts and each time I undress I'm ashamed and it is a big complex."

Nevertheless, support for and opposition to the tradition remains evenly balanced. According to the survey, 39 percent of women opposed it, while 41 percent expressed support and 26 percent were indifferent.

For Ndonko, the campaign is a battle to respect the physical integrity of young girls -- with broader implications for human rights.

"If nothing was done today, tomorrow the very parents may even resolve to slice off the nose, the mouth or any other part of the girl which they think is making her attractive to men." :huh:

source

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sdb815    0

Jesus, that's crazy. :blink:

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The Plague    0

How can people be this stupid? :|

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hotdog666al    31

NOOOOOO.

Let boobies grow free!!!

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Soham    4

i have to stay way from young girls now

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The Angry Bunny    6

Wow... that's incredibly stupid and sad... poor girls...

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illegalStuff    0

NOOOOOO.

Let boobies grow free!!!

:yes:

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MrKuro    0

that is just wrong . . stupid and wrong . . I can usually stand other cultures beliefs . . but this is just outrangous.

poor girls

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psybapunk    0

God, that must hurt, just like the folding of feet in I believe Japan.

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Amnesia    0

people who just go on to say that its wrong have to understand that people believe it's wrong due to their own culture and beliefs.

Different countries have different ways and they evolve with the times. It doesn't mean we all have to evolve at another countries pace.

I don't think it's personally acceptable to 'iron breasts', but I understand that different cultures have different traditions.

(like those guys who put metal plates on the bottom lip, I think it's wierd but what the hey, let them learn the effects themselves)

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NiceCarpet    0

: /

I don't cear if thats considered ok in other countries, thats just horrable.

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andrewhaji    0

There are many parts of the world which still hold true to very archaic and disgusting traditions. Some examples include intentionally sewing a female's vagina shut and cutting off part of the clitoris, similar to circumcision with males. I think it's utterly despicable.

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Wrezal    0

ouch!!!!!!!!!!! Ah that must hurt so much!!!!!

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Nexus    0

The girl should tell her mum. "Fine, you go ahead an iron my breasts, because when I'm 18 I'll just get

Double-D implants".

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Toology    13

people who just go on to say that its wrong have to understand that people believe it's wrong due to their own culture and beliefs.

Different countries have different ways and they evolve with the times. It doesn't mean we all have to evolve at another countries pace.

I don't think it's personally acceptable to 'iron breasts', but I understand that different cultures have different traditions.

(like those guys who put metal plates on the bottom lip, I think it's wierd but what the hey, let them learn the effects themselves)

Those who have this done have absolutely no say in the matter and it's fairly obvious that if they did they wouldn't want it. Also, a line has to be drawn somewhere. Indecisiveness and complacency is fine for us sure; we're not the ones getting our breasts ironed, clitorises cut off or vaginas sown shut. If we're all a part of the human race we all have the right and duty to judge, condemn and see that an end is put to the mutilation of other human beings. Sitting on our hands with our thumbs up our asses and shrugging our shoulders accomplishes absolutely nothing but give consent to these absurdities. Enough of that bull sh*t that just because it is foreign to someone they cannot pass judgement on atrocious practices.

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primexx    372

God, that must hurt, just like the folding of feet in I believe Japan.

China. I'm not sure about Japan.

===

The article doesnt explain why massaging breasts with warm material hurts so much...

Anyone got a explination?

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L3thal    2

The girl should tell her mum. "Fine, you go ahead an iron my breasts, because when I'm 18 I'll just get

Double-D implants".

Unfortunately for them, most of Africa is too poor to even eat, let alone get implants.

Though this is just wrong in all senses, their beliefs and acts should be respected.

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zhangm    1,338

China. I'm not sure about Japan.

===

The article doesnt explain why massaging breasts with warm material hurts so much...

Anyone got a explination?

It is destructive like massaging your penis with a boiled rock (~212F) wrapped in a towel.

Sure, beliefs should be respected, but what if their belief is based on incomplete information? They have the right as human individuals to know what they are doing and what damage it will cause before deciding on what they believe.

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John    7

OWWWW! :omg:

I can only imagine how painful that is, especially for a young girl at that age. How could any civilized mother do this to her daughter? A father might as well put his son's penis on the grill! :pinch:

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Jase    130

Now that is just stupid. I dont care if its what they believe in, its just plain wrong :no:

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L3thal    2

A father might as well put his son's penis on the grill! :pinch:

I'm sure they call that a weiner :pinch:

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Pajter    16

That's just horrible.. :no:

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Ferret    6

Ouch - That must really hurt.

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jooface    0

You know, circumcision is also genital mutilation... Just something to chew on but I mean the health effects of ironing breasts is way worse than circumcision. Hey each culture has their own customs, it obviously hasn't reduced birth rates, just look at the number of kids in Africa.

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Scudworth    0

that is just wrong . . stupid and wrong . . I can usually stand other cultures beliefs . . but this is just outrangous.

poor girls

outrangous even, oh dear! :p

God, that must hurt, just like the folding of feet in I believe Japan.

Binding not folding, and it was in China not Japan.

people who just go on to say that its wrong have to understand that people believe it's wrong due to their own culture and beliefs.

Different countries have different ways and they evolve with the times. It doesn't mean we all have to evolve at another countries pace.

I don't think it's personally acceptable to 'iron breasts', but I understand that different cultures have different traditions.

(like those guys who put metal plates on the bottom lip, I think it's wierd but what the hey, let them learn the effects themselves)

metal plates? do you mean the tribes that traditionally put discs in their lips?

Those who have this done have absolutely no say in the matter and it's fairly obvious that if they did they wouldn't want it. Also, a line has to be drawn somewhere. Indecisiveness and complacency is fine for us sure; we're not the ones getting our breasts ironed, clitorises cut off or vaginas sown shut. If we're all a part of the human race we all have the right and duty to judge, condemn and see that an end is put to the mutilation of other human beings. Sitting on our hands with our thumbs up our asses and shrugging our shoulders accomplishes absolutely nothing but give consent to these absurdities. Enough of that bull sh*t that just because it is foreign to someone they cannot pass judgement on atrocious practices.

Get off your high horse, western society has been 'mutilatating' people without their expressed consent for hundreds of years, too.

I don't quite understand how you can see it as your RIGHT to condemn and put an end to cultural practices that are not your own. Judge the practices, fine; oppose the practices, also fine; but strong-arming your way around traditions that have existed for hundreds of years is what has put many cultures in such a screwed-up state. If uppity-westerners could just keep their noses in their own business things would be a lot better.

How would you like it if some stuck-up outsider came in and started telling you you couldn't do things that your parents, and their parents, and their parents before them had done?

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