Why Some African Girls Endure Painful Breast flattening Practice

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Breast ironing, also known as breast flattening, is a cultural practice of flattening or crushing the breast of an adolescent girl to disguise the signs of development as some men strongly believe that teenage girls as low as 9 years whose breasts are developing are ripe for sex. This cultural practice that is particularly practised across all ethnic groups in Cameroon and some parts of Africa.

This is especially profound in places like Douala, one of the most populous and largest cities in the country.

Men in this area of the country strongly believe that teenage girls as low as 9 years whose breasts are developing are ripe for sex. In reaction, a mother who cares about her daughter and monitors her daughter’s breast growth pounds the breast with hot objects such as a stone, hammer, an umbilical belt or a pestle so that it stops developing. This way, men will find her unattractive and she can pursue her education. True to their plans, pregnancy rate has reduced since 1996.

Made popular in the last 50 years, this practice was initially introduced because it was assumed to help with a woman’s breast milk.

At present, 5661 girls have undergone this process.

This problem has only be brought to light in other countries but remains an open secret in places where it is practised.

Due to the global village factor, breast ironing has extended to the UK and nine other countries including Benin, Cote D’Ivoire, Togo.

While the world cries out against it, large majority women are in support of the practice.

There is currently no known extensive research on the implications on iron breasting.

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