Violence Against Girls: Breast Ironing, FGM Condemned

Twenty six per cent of Cameroonian girls at puberty undergo breast ironing ordeals, according to association.


The advocacy campaign against breast ironing and female genital mutilation has kicked off in Douala with sensitisation and awareness-raising. Aimed at eradicating breast ironing and female genital mutilation (FGM) among girls in the Wouri Division, the campaign was motivated by the fact that 53 per cent of the target population in the Littoral were victims of breast ironing in 2006, going by online statistics by the German Technical Cooperation (GiZ). Though there has not been any recent statistics on the phenomenon yet, the move was motivated by certain provisions on violence against women in the new Penal Code.

Twenty six per cent of girls at puberty undergo breast ironing ordeals in the country, according to statistics contained in the 2016 Bilingual Handbook by the Modern Advocacy Humanitarian Social and Rehabilitation Association, MAHSRA. To Dr. Kelly Ngyah, Promoter, this involves the process whereby mothers/guardians use heated objects like piston, stones or coconut shells to flatten their daughters’ breasts. They believe that it delays the growth of the breasts thereby protecting the girl child from sexual advances of men who think children are ripe for sex once their breasts begin to grow. However, some do it out of admiration of others who practiced it while others do it out of fear of being forced into early marriage. But the practice is undertaken out of ignorance of negative health effects such as breast cancer, cysts and itching, scar, one side bigger than the other and complications that come up later like interruptions of breast milk flow during breastfeeding, as well as legal sanctions spelt out in the new Penal Code.


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