For many girls around the world, the onset of puberty represents a time of uncertainty, even anxiety, as their bodies change. But for approximately 3.8 million girls around the world that anxiety turns to anguish, as the start of adolescence brings with it a practice called “breast ironing.”
”… is practiced in Chad, Guinea Bissau, Togo, and Benin. It is most common in Cameroon, where nearly a quarter of girls and women have had their breasts “ironed.” It is intended to protect girls from unwanted sexual advances. Unfortunately the practice can be both physically and emotionally traumatic
While it is aimed at protecting their daughters, “breast ironing” is more harmful than helpful.
When girls start showing signs of puberty, mothers begin “ironing” their breasts, using heated tools like stones, spatulas, and pestles to pound or massage their chests, in an attempt to prevent them from developing.
The practice is also known as “breast flattening” or “breast sweeping,” according to Newsweek. In order to prevent girls’ breasts from growing, mothers may also wrap bandages tightly around their daughters’ chests.