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Breast Ironing - an African tradition

I cringed and felt an immense pang of sympathy & regret for the girls who have been forced to undergo this practice.
I can understand the motivations behind it, but this (to me) is really... extreme.
I mean, there has got to be an easy, painless way to satisfy these parents' obsession with tradition and still allow those young women to grow up without scars, health problems and emotional trauma.


YAOUNDE, Cameroon (Reuters) -- Worried that her daughters' budding breasts would expose them to the risk of sexual harassment and even rape, their mother Philomene Moungang started 'ironing' the girls' bosoms with a heated stone.

... "You ask me why I did it?" said Moungang. "When I was growing up as a little girl my mother did it to me just as all other women in the village did it to their girl children. So I thought it was just good for me to do to my own children."

My folks did it to me, and I turned out ok.

Ever hear that as a kid, maybe after being shoved into a lake, as a lesson in swimming?
But did it really teach you anything?
Or did it just make you even more fearful of deep water and more resentful of whoever pushed you?

Concerning this news story - Would the standards of what a rapist desires in a victim really change?
Don't most people who abuse someone sexually see their victims more or less as a piece of meat, there only to satisfy their lust & anger?

So... wouldn't these girls still be targets for rape and sexual abuse, in spite of all the efforts made to render them unattractive?

(I didn't see any information about whether this practice is actually making any difference in the numbers of rape/molestation/sexual harassment cases reported)

Read the rest of the story here

These vicious cycles of rote-learned cruelty have got to stop. Each generation becomes more jaded, ignorant and violent as a result.
DO you have any idea how many AIDS/HIV infected people are there in Africa? Do you think all of them are due to sex with consent? Do you think a mother will enjoy ironing her daughters breasts like that in order to save her from rapists? Don't you think she would love to have an alternative? Don't you think it is the lack of control on rapists that is the problem?

Don't judge a peoples difficulties sitting in your comfortable chair in front of a PC. These people don't even know what the internet is. They live in huts in a place where they have to worry about drinking water. Have you ever had that worry? We usually curse when there is no electricity for half an hour. Those people have to worry about armed militia coming into their house in the middle of the night and dragging away their eldest sons to join in their military.

In such places, if the mothers are doing their only desperate ways to save their children, try not to call them backward.

You say you don't understand their motivation when the article itself says that it is to save them from sexual harrassment. Just shows how shallow your contemplation on this was. The moment you read it is Africans and that it is a gross act, you label them as backward and rest your case.

Try to stop and think of how things are from their perspective. These mothers are desperate to save their childrens lives. You don't think this act will stop them from being targeted but apparantly the mothers know from experience that it does save them...

Tell me, if there was no other way, would you rather have your daughters breasts removed than have her raped? These desperate women are just protecting their children the only way they can...

If you want to judge anyone, judge the leaders of these countries who are too busy with civil wars to be doing anything for their people.
jipmerite, slow down and read a post carefully to make sure you completely understand what you're becoming defensive about before you start hurling accusations at someone who is simply commenting on their view of a news story or event.

From my original post -

CrimsonStrange wrote:
... I can understand the motivations behind it...

jipmerite wrote:
The moment you read it is Africans and that it is a gross act, you label them as backward and rest your case.

Where did you come up with that idea from, jipmerite? I don't think somebody is backwards just because they're African.
Hey, all cultures do some pretty bass-ackwards stuff to their kids.
As in... the example I gave about throwing your child into a river to teach them how to swim.

And yes, I can understand the desperation that the mothers must feel. I can appreciate that they feel as if they're doing what's best for their children.
And, as far as the HIV/AIDS crisis, the lack of punishment for rapists, civil war and some of the other issue you mentioned in your reply... I can see where they all tie into the news story I was referencing, but, honestly... I was just commenting on the story.

jipmerite wrote:
Tell me, if there was no other way, would you rather have your daughters breasts removed than have her raped?

Answer - No, I'd rather teach my daughter some basic self-defense skills and make sure she realized the dangers of the world she lived in so she might be better prepared. And I would also make sure she knew that physical beauty does not make you more or less likely to be a victim of sexual harassment or rape.

From the story -
Moungang said she stopped ironing her daughters' breasts after one girl developed blisters and abscesses.
"I took her to the hospital and the doctor scolded me and advised never to do it again because it could ruin my daughter," she said.
"When Mariane married and delivered her first baby, it took a long time -- about a month -- for her breasts to start producing milk and the child almost died. I was told it was because I had ironed her breasts. I was frightened."

That statement from a mother implies that she really didn't fully understand the physical damage that this "breast ironing" was causing her daughter.

The whole point of my original post was to express the sympathy I felt for those girls because of the physical, psychological and emotional effects of this practice, and that many common practices, in all parts of the world, still exist partly because they have become tradition.

Y'know, like that whole "running of the bulls" celebration in Pamplona, Spain.
It's a tradition, and will probably always continue... even though people get hurt and killed doing it.

What is Christmas or Thanksgiving? They are traditions, meant to be reminders and celebrations of past events. (even though the vast majority of people who take part in these traditions nowadays do so simply because "mom always made candied yams with Thanksgiving dinner" or "we always sang Silent Night before we opened our presents".)

Anyway, this post is getting very long with me trying to explain every little detail of the things I've said, and it's pointless.
Other people see news stories that they want to comment on, and so do I.

I'm sorry if I've offended you somehow, jipmerite, but I also think you should pay more attention to what's being said before you jump down somebody's throat.
Embarassed bad...sorry about that CrimsonStrange. I guess I got carried away. Actually I hadn't slept for about 36 hours when I read your post. I guess my mind was not in full gear.

Now that I have re-read your original post after catching up on my sleep, I see I made a complete fool out of myself with that post.

But if not you, there really are too many people going around who do feel the way that I have said in my post. I guess I have been faced with too many of such people and kept quiet that when I decided to say something against you, misguided as it was, the dam really broke and unleashed a real torrent of thoughts.

Sorry once again.

No hard feeling eh?
I doubt physical appearance really would deter a rapist, especially if most girls in the area were getting their breasts ironed. The rapist mentality is(usually) that the victim is just a piece of meat for carnal pursuits.

As much as I think that the ironing is a bad practice, it is much, much better than getting raped, and in the eyes of mothers who do it, ironing breasts does deter rapists. The mothers fear that their children will get raped, so they will do everything in their power, regardless of how irrational it actually is that they have come up with and learned to possibly deter rapists. Fear brings about the birth and continuation of such irrational actions.

And self defense, although it is always good to teach your kid how to defend herself, often proves meaningless in rape cases. Why? Because a small child does not have the strength to defend herself against a grown man. It could happen, but size and natural selection are working against. Self defense could work to an extent if the girl was older, but controlling men are overpowering.

Something else must be done to alleviate the mothers' fears, then only will the breast ironing stop. And of course, educating the mothers about how ironing will screw up girls' bodies and how ironing does NOT deter a rapist.
Nah, no hard feelings, Mr. Siyah. Wink

Actually, the world needs more passionate & caring people like you.

Oh, and by the way... I really like your poems. You've got a gift with words. Smile
Thanks... I rarely get complements for them Sad
HI all,

i think this is very bad for those girls... feel pity for them.... but nothing can be.... these people are not much educated and just follow old trends..... no one to guide or teach them.... May Allah Bless Them
i live in the gambia, west africa for the last 4 years. once again i see in the western press talk about africa - we ar a continenet, not a country, with a huge and very localised cultural diversity. so traditions vary widely by tribal origin but also have been influenced by colonial history.
breast ironing is not known in our part of west africa. however, female circumsicion is still widely practiced wich again has its roots in both tribal and religious traditions.
rape. within one of our local tribes it is not uncommon that the day a young girl has first menarche - the first sign of fertility and the sign that the girl is "ready" - some of the young men of the village will waylay her if she should leave the compound and their "leader" would rape her. this is not allowed within her compound - she is protected there by her family - but outside of this protection it is "allowed". within the more educated fractions of our small society this is
first: not openly discussed.
second: if discussed, openly decried, even by members of the said tribe
thirdly: not even admitted by the rape victim.
i was shocked the first time i heard about it from a victim and the local social consequences it had for her - she is a single mum now due to her own experience and lives and works away from her village without her daughter. but thinking and talking about it i can understand - not tolerate - the root of the tradition. it goes back a long way and ensured the survival of the species and reinforcing a strong genetic strain.
i'm not trying to be controversial or even equating this tradition with the horrible actions that go on in less stable parts of not only africa but the whole planet or condone personal violation in any way or kind but:
maybe we all should look at our traditions and learn from them, adapt them into our modern thinking and practises in a humane way - maybe the world would be a better place.

I think rape is more about dominance and control than it is about lust or sex.
Thank god, they stopped with Breast Laughing
indianinworld wrote:
Thank god, they stopped with Breast Laughing

*cough* people have gone farther. Much, much farther. Shocked

Lets just say it makes rape impossible...
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