By reading the term, you must have figured out till now what breast ironing actually means. Yes, you are right. It is the process by which a girl’s breasts are made disappear through some really painful methods. The inhumane practice is being carried out since ages in the Central Asia but thankfully the victims are slowing coming into light. The United Nations Population Fund (UNPF) listed breast ironing as the fifth under-reported crime related to gender based violence.
The matter came into the picture when a Somali psychotherapist and social activist, Leyla Hussein tweeted about it in order to put an end to this misery.
“Breast ironing is when a hot iron or stone is used to burn or compress the breast tissue. Destroying a woman’s or girl’s breasts in this way can take anything from a couple of days to a few weeks. The words ‘culture,’ ‘tradition’ or ‘religion’ might come up when trying to explain this absurdly harmful practice, but as in the case of Female Genital Mutilation, these words are only thinly veiled excuses.”
It was believed that breast ironing is done in order to protect the girls from rape and molestation. Stupid as it sounds! Although rapes still happened even after a girls breasts were ironed and made perish, the communities following this were still believing that their girls are being protected by it. In 58% of cases, this is done by the mothers of the girls themselves and in most scenarios, the fathers remained unaware of this. After marriage, when the time for breastfeeding comes, these girls were unable to produce milk and as a result were bitten by driver ants in order to swell up their breasts. The result however remained the same and they failed to develop any milk then also.
The girls that went through breast ironing not only went through mental and physical trauma but their confidence level also shattered like hell. The practice was done by using hot stones and metals and some families even used an elastic band too. As a result, some of the girls even got tortured in their mind to that extent that they didnt allowed anyone to touch their body for the rest of their lives. Now, victims are slowing speaking up against this and they are also teaching others that instead of undergoing breast ironing, proper sex education must be given in order to avoid the undesirable consequences.
Several organizations are working for awareness against breast ironing. Some of them are London-based charity Women’s and Girl’s Development Organisation (Cawogido), and the Association of Aunties, a national network in Cameroon that promotes sexual dialogue.
Here are their website links:
Share and spread the word!