Breast Ironing: the silent GBV in Cameroon and abroad.

Catherine Djiemo
Posted December 12, 2021 from Sweden

 

Research and information on breast ironing is extremely limited but I got even extensively troubled  after  I first mentioned breast ironing during an interactive discussion at Dalarna University in Sweden a few moths back . “Breast ironing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!, what is that?”,  many present both the lecturer and students had never heard of Breast Ironing before this lecture.

In light of this i realise ; while  scientific journals describe the existence and consequences of female genital mutilation, forced marriages and honour killings, there is still little awareness and knowledge on the practice of breast ironing. This is a practice which is risking the dignity of young girls, violating  human rights perspective and affecting both the physical and mental health of many youngs girls and women .

Cameroon is one of many countries in West and central Africa that practice breast ironing to keep the girl child in school and prevent teenage pregnancies. Examples of other countries that practice breast ironing in West and Central Africa include Chad, Togo, and Kenya. It is estimated By UN that more than 3.8 million girls have been subjected to breast ironing with an estimated number of around 1.3 million victims in Cameroon (UN). Its also interesting to know that BI is a migrating practice as citizens of these nations that migrate into the western side of the globe, bring with them these practice and practice them within their new settings . Breast ironing have been reported in the UK, Germany just to name a few .

This  practice is commonly carried out by mothers, aunts, or sisters with the purpose of delaying the young girl’s breast development, based on the belief that they are protecting her from societal pressures that include early marriage , rape, teenage pregnancy and m.m . This may be seen as the only route for a girl child to get through school and gain an education, without the consequences of sexual harassment within the communities where BI is practiced  . Stagiling is the fact that the culture of breast ironing is encouraged by both victims and perpetrators, with estimated  50% of the practice being carried out by mothers,and the rest by  by grandmothers, sisters, aunts,  nannies, and  victims themselves.

The  cultural stigma and shame associated with rape and teenage pregnancy  have left many mothers with the choice of breast ironing their daughters but what is really creating the continuation of breast ironing is the lack of knowlegde on the consequences of this practice and lack of adequate education on alternative method of contraceptive. 

The decision to create  Catherine Djiemo Foundation in Cameroon a few years ago was based on meeting one teenage pregnant girl while visiting home. I saw myself in this girl ; I was in my early 20s when i got pregnant with my first child and then my walls came crambling. My culture rejected and still rejects  the idea of pregnancy before marriage . I needed help from those i loved but ............ it was very complicated . In that moment of encounter with this young lady , i was taken back to my 20s and I wanted to give back.This one girl was my point of contact , I was in her position years back and all i needed was someone to say "its OK " even in my fragile circumstance . Catherine Djiemo Foundation have SRHR as the central point of focus . Our goal is to educate , reinforce, quality improve and provide information  accessibility on SRHR while using the most cost -effective method .

To combate the problem  of Breats Ironing ,the Catherine Djiemo Fondation in Cameroon ,is opening its first Breast Ironing Information Center (BIIC) in the beging of  year 2022 . Our intension is to educate the public on breast ironing (BI) ,its consequences and interventions strategies to eliminate this practice. We are looking forward in collaborating with school,co-operating with other CSO  minicipalities and Parents teacher associations to inform the public on BI . We welcome all forms of partnership in sharing knowlegde with the goal of empowering a girl child .

Mvh 

Catherine Djiemo 

This story was submitted in response to Share On Any Topic.

Comments 12

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Olanike Adesanya
Dec 12, 2021
Dec 12, 2021

This is worthy of standing ovation... .
Breast Ironing. This is the first time I am learning about stuffs like that.
Another plus to World Pulse.
Thank you so much Catherine.
I don't know if the right thing to do is thank you for not mentioning my Country, Nigeria.
Actually, honestly, I am doubting it, if it happens in Nigeria.
Anyways, let me congratulate you for your efforts towards this BI eradication and the opening of BIIC, come 2022, by God's Grace.
And may I seize this opportunity to request for an Invite to the Program? I am doing so for the reason of discouraging such act in Nigeria, just in case. And for educative purposes.
Thank you in anticipation.

Good job you have done and still doing.
May God Bless your Vessels.
Long live Catherine Djiemo Fondation in Cameroon!
Long live BIIC!!

Catherine Djiemo
Dec 14, 2021
Dec 14, 2021

Hej sis,
It humbling knowing you are going on the hunt to know if this BI is ongoing in Nigeria .
We will be lunching some zoom sessions in 2022 and i will be glad to have you come along with us on this journey.
Mvh
Catherine djiemo

Leonida Odongo
Dec 12, 2021
Dec 12, 2021

Dear Catherine,

This is so disturbing, great that you are creating awareness against this vice.

Kudos sister

Best regards

Leonida

Catherine Djiemo
Dec 14, 2021
Dec 14, 2021

Thanks Linda for all your support.
Mvh
Catherine djiemo

Tamarack Verrall
Dec 13, 2021
Dec 13, 2021

Dear Catherine,
This information is so important for us all to know, and it is chilling to read that breast ironing is in so many countries and being carried to even more. So painful that women feel obligated to do this, to "protect" young women. I first learned about breast ironing from Ch Leina, https://www.worldpulse.com/community/users/leina who has been a member of World Pulse since 2010, a strong leader and someone you might gain strength from connecting with. Congratulations on founding your organization. This is such critically important work!

Catherine Djiemo
Dec 14, 2021
Dec 14, 2021

Hej Tam ,
Thanks on this information. It is even more devastating that mothers are put in this position of breast ironing their girls . I can but imagine their desparation to protect their girls while exposing them to newer grounds for GBV . Its a very sensitive and confusing place to find oneself as a parent and we hope we can unlearn to learn with these women ,community stakeholders and the suivivors of BI.
Thanks Tam for always Empowering.
Mvh
Catherine djiemo

Kumasi Goodness
Dec 13, 2021
Dec 13, 2021

Waooooo. Thank you very much for taking the initiative to research more on breast ironing in our society Cameroon and beyond. It is an age long practice in Cameroon that people have been taking for granted. Thank Catherine for raising your voice on this gender Based Violence issue called breast ironing.

Catherine Djiemo
Dec 14, 2021
Dec 14, 2021

Humbled you could read it and together we can help in our little way to improve the accessibility and quality of SRHR in Cameroon.
Mvh
Catherine djiemo

Olanike Adesanya
Dec 14, 2021
Dec 14, 2021

Gladly my Dear sister.
Looking forward to it.
Good job you're doing.

honorine ngenwi1609833739
Dec 19, 2021
Dec 19, 2021

Thanks sis for the write up. With these I believe it will stop the idea of BI.
Thanks so much
My Regards

Grace Iliya
Dec 21, 2021
Dec 21, 2021

Hello Catherine,
You know, this is the very first time I am coming across something like this ever and I am really shocked to hear this. Thank you for taking this initiative which will go a long way in combating this act. Great Job dear sister.

Much Love

Maryice1
Dec 26, 2021
Dec 26, 2021

Hi ladies and loads of positive vibrations for all our endeavors in this new year. When I was 9 I had my breast sprout and it was so shocking to our neighbors that they advised my mom who had never heard of this practice before to do it to me. I guess for all the praises they gave this practice, she couldn't resist them and for my own sake, she sent me under the bed where she warmed up a motar pistil very hot on the stove and luckily for me handed it to me with the instructions to press hard on that little knot I felt on my chest. I tried and it gave me an excruciating pain, like I'had never felt before. So I stopped but pretended I was executing her orders by pressing elsewhere on that little body of mine. I learned years after that if I had obeyed my mom, the breast would have disappeared just to come back full force being massive in this second renaissance. And I know someone very close who had just that happening to them, but they also found it hard to produce milk to breastfeed their children.!!
We need more light and testimony on this Topic indeed. Thanks for caring and bringing it up. Happy festive season to all of you and your family members in here.