Saturday, February 26, 2011

Breaking the Silence: Breast Ironing

When entering the panel Physical Barriers to Education, I did not know I would leave rattled. I was not prepared for the information the Aunties Association brought forth. The panelist exposed the shocking reality of breast ironing. Unknown to the majority of the panel attendees, the practice of breast ironing is occurring in West Africa. The following are details from a study from 2005 based in ten regions of Cameroon:
• 25 % of the women have undergone breast ironing.
• 50% were under 9 years old.

While I will not list the gruesome details here( is a good place to start for more details), there is no question that this practice not only harms to girls, but also creates barriers.

After leaving the session, I not only found myself shocked by the reality that this form of violence is occurring in West Africa right now, but also at the fact that very few those attending the panel had heard of breast ironing prior to the session. I also wondered whether anything is being done at the government level to help. While this post is brief, my hope is that by making this information known, the voices of these women and girls will be heard.

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