Carried out all over the world, this traditional practice is done on girls who are about to have developing breasts. This is usually carried out by family members, by using hot metals such as hot spoons, to press on the tissue to suppress its growth.
This is done with the intention to prevent their children from attracting men to have sexual thoughts about them, thinking of it as an act of protection from rape, early child marriage and sexual advances. However, some of the intentions are flawed and made to be methods of punishments to their children. In recounts from girls who came out of the closet, it was found that parents would iron their breasts to threaten them. Parents use this as a form of manipulation, even if it was not intended at first. (There are some breast ironing video links at the end of this post.)
Thought we should respect traditional practices, this practice however violates human rights as these practices are clearly harmful, yet forced upon children against their will. This practice not only obviously brings about physical pain to the child, but also traumatizes them. Breast ironing can lead to breast cancer, cysts and depression etc.
The huge problem with this is that there isn’t enough official statistics about this as it is usually done secretly and so there isn’t enough education about this matter. Girls who had ironed breasts would not even know that they have been abused and might even think of it to be a usually practice to coming-of-age children.
Mutilation of the human body is odd, but actually quite common. This can be tied to female genital mutilation(FGM), which is a procedure to remove the clitoris and other external parts of the female intimate area as it was thought to some as an act of becoming a woman (How I Survived Female Genital Mutilation).
Even in so called “advanced” countries like my own, Singapore, these practices of female circumcision still exists and can be even done while the child is an infant (FGM in Singapore).
Videos to watch:
Featured image taken from metro.co.uk
So how do we help?