Breast ironing is the pounding and massaging of a pubescent girl’s breasts, using hard or heated objects, to try to make them stop developing or disappear. It is mostly practiced in parts of Cameroon.

Young girls start the procedure at eight or nine years old by wearing tightly wrapped bandages around their chest to prevent growth.

This excruciating female body modification is meant to make the women less attractive to men, in the hope that the young girls will not get pregnant and will have a chance to finish their education. It is typically carried out by the girl’s mother to prevent early pregnancy. Women who delay marriage in pursuit of an education and career can make more money and have more independence later in life.

The practice can cause the following:

  • Tissue damage
  • Breast cancer
  • Cysts
  • Depression
  • Infections
  • Abscesses
  • Malformed breasts
  • Eradication of one or both breasts
  • Mental trauma

Join the conversation! 22 Comments

  1. So shocking. This should have been done to the perpetrators.

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  2. This is terrible child abuse. Where does this happen?

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  3. This is the equivalent of Female Genital Mutilation, only not so immediately dangerous. FGM I cannot understand, this I can, to a point, but it only makes it worse. I don’t know where you get all this information from, but I am glad you are not only finding it, but relaying it to your readers. I reblogged your post on child brides the other day, but rather than reblogging this I am going to “STRONGLY RECOMMEND” my readership follow your blog (and hope all your readers do this too!), and spread the word as far and wide and quickly as possible. I commend the parents for trying to help their daughters, but I have to condemn them even more for taking unnecessary and dangerous risks. There have to be other ways, such as the use of birth control pills, which should actually be called pregnancy-inhibiting pills.Thank you again, and again and again and again.

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  4. As a woman, this really sickened me if I’m being honest but sadly I’m not suprised by it . When we look at the vast number of girls being subject to FGM across the world, the fact that another part of the body is now the target for violation isn’t so suprising. How sad some cultures cannot accept the female form for what it is – natural & beautiful. After saying this however, we have to acknowledge many western women are subjecting themselves by choice to similar traditions for example ‘designer vaginas) Breast Reductions & Enlargements etc albeit done in a more humane way. One thing I am certain of, this practice must be a culturally learned and passed down behaviour over generations and so I’m not sure if education would help. Many cultures of course have many different ingrained traditions and rituals that are accepted and so another question is who are we to dictate what’s right or wrong?

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    • Well the mother’s don’t know of any other way to keep the men away from them so they can finish school.

      We need better behavior from men in the world so children have a fighting chance.

      Liked by 1 person

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  5. Before the white man; before the imposition of Western “values” women went about bare breasted so I don’t think this practice has deep traditional roots. Also the mention of “education” i.e., schooling, point to another twisted result of meddling in indigenous cultures to enforce “the white man’s burden” upon the world.

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    • I would argue that this is less of a “white man” issue and more of an “man” issue.

      The women are frustrated that they can’t stop the men in Cameroon from wanting to have sex with underage girls. In that country girls with an education make far more money than the drop.

      It’s not just them, we are seeing the same issue around the world. Grown men wanting children for sex.

      Given the number of countries with the exact same issue (including the US, Australia, Japan, France, Mexico, Most of the middle east, etc.) I think we have an issue with men having bad sexual behaviors.

      Keep in mind that the days you are talking about also coincide with the times women had to do what they were told, who to marry, and when to submit. In the age of women being able to say “NO” we now see this aggressive behavior from men.

      Just a thought

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  6. As horrible and offensive as the practice may appear to us, I have to agree with some above that, in the end, who are we to judge or interfere? It’s THEIR culture, albeit, as Sha mentioned, probably a more recent development. Just like female genital mutation (which is much older), it’s up to those caught up in the cycle, those who come from that practice and that world, to start a sea change and divert the course. We may feel horror and empathy for the girls, but I’m not sure our opinions matter.

    And it’s very easy to be hypocritical and not realize it. One of the vapid, self-righteous Housewives has been heavily involved in stopping the Chinese from eating dogs. We love dogs here and they’re even part of the family. But the Chinese don’t feel the same way; why are Americans forcing their point of view on another country? Oh, yeah. Because we’re used to doing it! Also, if that’s the case, start in America where chickens and lambs and other creatures live on top of each other in cages and horrific conditions. We obviously are all aware that East Indians consider cows sacred, while ours are just walking hamburgers. Let’s not worry about the Chinese, Lisa Vanderpump, who lives in Beverly Hills and has probably never been hungry a day in her life.

    Another example: I forgot the circumstances in recent history where one of our leaders came down on another country for horrible things they were doing to their people, to which the response came back (sic) “Why should we listen to a country who regularly lynches its own citizens?” Regarding the situation in Cameroon and countries that engage in female genital mutilation and Middle Eastern countries that are allowed to murder women for wanting a divorce, etc., etc,….once they begin to change from the inside, with their own people, if they then reach out to the rest of the world for help (resources, media, support, etc.) THEN others could join the fight. But I also think we should curb our sense of horror, because there’s many different levels of oppression, and while Cameroon’s example is appalling, the U.S., specifically, has no shortage of skeletons in the closet….and skeletons in clear sight, actually, these days.

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    • You stated — “As horrible and offensive as the practice may appear to us, I have to agree with some above that, in the end, who are we to judge or interfere?”

      My response — We are human so we can judge any practice that harms children.

      Love the people but call out any bad practice that harms a child.

      Just a thought

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  7. Third world subhuman trash always fails to surprise me

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  8. Okay, the parents are trying to help their daughters, which is good, but the methods they are using to prevent them from being molested is wrong. The end doesn’t always justify the means.

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Children Are Under Attack

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