Breast Ironing. In today’s article, we would be looking at one of the most triggering activity faced by young girls and women in Nigeria.
Incase you are wondering what this gruesome act is, Breast Ironing is a brutal traditional practice that involves the use of hot stones by women of the older generation to batter their daughter’s breasts in order to stop them from growing rapidly. It is done by adults to prevent younger females from developing so fast as to warrant men finding them sexually attractive. Studies have shown that this practice is most rampant amongst many Nigerian communities, including Kpaduma and Basara communities in Abuja, the federal capital. its perpetrators say they protect the girl child from sexual assaults, gender-based violence, and unwanted pregnancy.
Breast Ironing in Nigeria
Experts say the practice has no known scientifically verified benefits.
“These are some of the harmful practices we campaign against in the medical field. it is actually a no-no practice. It does a lot, including psychological scarring of the girl child and destroying the girl child’s beauty. They are very dangerous practices,” said Pat-Enike Gladwin, head of the intensive care unit at Zenith Medical centre in Abuja.
Advocates for Human Rights, a US-based nonprofit protecting the freedom and integrity in global communities, said the practice is a brutal violation of human rights.
“Breast ironing in itself shouldn’t even be considered as result-oriented because how can a practice that could pass as being barbaric be thought to provoke positive results?” it said.
“Breast ironing as a practice is ultimately deliberate, though arguably ignorant, violence against the girl child as this practice is both ineffective in itself and its results. Seeing it does not stop breasts from developing, neither does it prevent unwanted male attention; all it does is inflict pain and psychological trauma on its victims (the girl child).”
Gladwin said the health consequences include tissue damage, increased risk of cysts (air and fluid in breast tissues), and depression. It could also interfere with breastfeeding later, as many victims complain of difficulty lactating later. It leads to an imbalance in breast size and infection from scarring.
Sadly, breast ironing has not received the awareness and attention it deserves, and it falls under the category of under-reported stories related to gender-based violence.
It would take doubled effort from human rights advocates, health experts, and policymakers to discourage communities from the practice. If it does only harm and has no trace of good, why practice it?
What is your take on Breast Ironing? Have you experienced this? Do you think this activity should be curbed? Let us know what you think.