I don’t really read the Huffington Post, but last night my attention was grabbed by one of their headlines: Teenage Girls Undergo ‘Breast Ironing’ In Cameroon. Breast ironing is the action of using a hot stone to press the breast down and stop them from growing. Girls all over the world are reaching puberty earlier and earlier and as a means to prevent rape and teenage pregnancies mothers in Cameroon have adopted breast ironing as a safety measure. Girls as young as nine years old will have their breasts ironed to prevent them from growing.
There are obvious psychological and physical ramifications to undergoing breast ironing. Physical trauma such as burns, abscesses and deformed breasts are a common consequence of the procedure. The emotional trauma in my opinion can be even more scarring and can result in a host of psychological issues in regards to your body and sexual health.
I think it would be easy to look at breast ironing and think of it as a wrong-oh-so-wrong practice and leave it at that, but to me the most glaring truth here is that put simply, these are mothers trying to protect their daughters. I know that I would want to protect (my imaginary) nine-year old from rape and if binding her growing breast seemed like a viable option I might just give a thought or two. I think that any mother in her right mind would do just about anything to prevent her child from sexual abuse. Wouldn’t you?
The real issue here is the very real fear of rape and much-needed implementation of sex education, and not just in Cameroon, but all over the world. Sex education is only a small part of our high school curriculum here in Canada and I can only assume that it’s not much better anywhere else. Sex education needs to be an ongoing process and it should also be introduced at a much earlier age. I’ve been thinking more and more lately of actually getting a degree in human sexuality and perhaps attempting to do something about the state of sex education in our schools.
What do you think, would you let me teach your kids?