Friday, July 29, 2011

Cameroon's breast ironing tradition

Breast ironing tradition targeted in Cameroon
From Nkepile Mabuse, CNN

(CNN) -- Every morning before school, nine-year-old Terisia Techu would undergo a painful procedure. Her mother would take a burning hot pestle straight out of a fire and use it to press her breasts.

With tears in her eyes as she recalls what it was like, Terisia tells CNN that one day the pestle was so hot, it burned her, leaving a mark. Now 18, she is still traumatized.

Her mother, Grace, denies the incident. But she proudly demonstrates the method she used on her daughter for several weeks, saying the goal was to make her less desirable to boys -- and stave off pregnancy.

A study found that one in four girls in Cameroon have been affected by the practice.

The U.S. State Department, in its 2010 human rights report on Cameroon, cited news reports and said breast ironing "victimized numerous girls in the country" and in some cases "resulted in burns, deformities, and psychological problems."

There are more than 200 ethnic groups in Cameroon with different norms and customs. Breast ironing is practiced by all of them.

In 2006, a German nongovernmental organization exposed the practice, which at the time was done mainly in secret.

Now, charities have embarked on campaigns to educate mothers in Cameroon that sex education -- not breast ironing -- is the solution to ending teenage pregnancy.

Dr Sinou Tchana, a gynecologist in Cameroon, has seen breast glands that were destroyed. She also saw one case of cancer, though she says it couldn't be established whether the ironing caused or only exacerbated the cancer.

The full story with video report is HERE.

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