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article imageBreast ironing in Cameroon raises concerns Special

By Samuel Okocha     Jul 27, 2010 in World
Breast ironing is a traditional practice carried out by mothers in the Central African country of Cameroon to prevent their growing daughters from becoming promiscuous.
It involves the pounding and massaging of a pubescent girl's breast using heated objects, in an attempt to make them stop developing.
But a Nigerian medical doctor, Friday Aleke, said the practice would not stop a girl’s breasts from growing.
“Since it's a skin burn, it will remain a skin burn, except if you burn it to the point where the scar is such that there is contracture and it can not grow...and that is severe burn, it’s not the kind of burn that you use metal to make, third degree burns...that is the only place where you can say you are actually inhibiting the growth of the breast, apart from that I don't think those practices are inhibiting any growth of any sort,” said the doctor with University of Nigeria in Enugu State.
Even though an ironed breast would still grow, the doctor said the scar on a girl’s breast would affect her confidence level. "It's going to psychologically affect, her of course, with the scar on her breast...psychologically the girl is no longer confident to show her body."
Dr Aleke condemned the practice saying "all those things are much messed up practices whether you have a medical explanation or not. ...They shouldn't be practiced.
It's just like female genital mutilation when you go and cut off female in the pretence that it will make them less promiscuous, these things don't work"
The doctor's view was supported by a senior broadcaster Hadiza Bayero in Northern Nigeria who said the practice was retrogressive and might not even stop the promiscuity as sought by the mothers.
In her words: “There are one thousand and one ways you can talk to a female child without burning her breasts to take off promiscuity..If your child is going to be promiscuous whether you cut her breasts from now till tomorrow, she is going to be promiscuous, it doesn't stop anything.”
"Instead you even traumatize these group of children, some at the end of the day, some of the girls turn up being frigid and even afraid of men and other stuff, so there are so many things, psychologically and otherwise," said the broadcaster whose uncle is married to a Cameroonian.
She called on the media and advocacy groups to sustain and mount campaigns against what she called "a wicked practice" that should be halted immediately.
More about Breast ironing, Cameroon, Concern
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