Writers International Edition

Shocking tradition of ‘breast flattening’, or breast ironing

Breasts are often considered a symbol of femininity and beauty in many cultures around the world. They play an important role in women’s physical and emotional well-being. Breasts not only provide nourishment to newborns, but they also have an important psychological and social function, as they are often associated with attractiveness, sexuality, and motherhood. For many women, their breasts are an integral part of their self-image and self-confidence. As such, it’s important to appreciate and respect the beauty and importance of breasts, while also recognizing the need to prioritize their health and well-being.

‘Breast flattening’, or Breast ironing

Breast flattening, also known as breast ironing, is a harmful practice that is predominantly carried out in some African countries, such as Cameroon, Nigeria, and Guinea. The practice involves massaging, pounding, or using hot objects to flatten or suppress the growth of a girl’s breasts during puberty.

Breast flattening is often carried out by the girl’s mother or other female relatives in an attempt to delay the onset of puberty and reduce the likelihood of sexual harassment or assault. However, the practice can cause physical and psychological harm to the young girl.

Physically, breast flattening can cause tissue damage, infection, and even breast cancer. It can also lead to the misalignment of breasts, scarring, and other long-term health complications. Psychologically, breast flattening can result in feelings of shame, embarrassment, and low self-esteem, which can negatively impact a girl’s mental health and well-being.

Several organizations and governments have taken steps to raise awareness of the dangers of breast flattening and encourage its eradication. Education campaigns, laws, and policies have been implemented to discourage the practice and promote the health and well-being of young girls. However, changing deeply ingrained cultural practices and beliefs can be a slow process, and continued efforts are needed to protect young girls from the harmful effects of breast flattening.


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Irene Doura
Irene Doura
1 year ago

Shocking, indeed! Such abhorrent practices really need to be eradicated from any society.

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