You there – stop having breasts!

I'm going to think about this part of Cameroon for awhile.

I can’t even. What the fuck.

No, I mean it: What.The.Fuck.

Breast ironing sparks anger in Cameroon

Every morning before school, 9-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.

“To stave off pregnancy”… Just when you thought you knew everything there was to know about the ways in which the world tries to own and control female bodies, you get slapped upside the head with something new.

Crossposted at Angry Black Lady Chronicles and Feministe.



  1. dmf

     /  July 27, 2011

    that’ll learn me to pay attention to the “tags” at the top of the post, is there a related HR/health campaign that we can support?

    • Excellent question – I don’t see anything in the article I linked to, but I’ll look into it. Oy.

  2. This is so sad on so many levels. The mother is trying to protect her daughter from possible rape and early pregnancy. However good her intentions are, she cancels them out by victimizing her daughter further, all in an effort to protect her. This reminds me of most patriarchal societies/cultures/religions in which it is not the males who are blamed for not being able to control their urges, it is the females who are forced to take responsibility for staving off unwanted attention. While I hate to say “couldn’t these mothers in this culture find a better way that doesn’t harm their daughters?”, it pains me to suggest alternative ways for women to protect themselves from unwanted advances: clothing like the burqa, or other items meant to hide the human form. There’s a fine line here, between the need to educate these societies in ways that will promote less violence towards women, and forcing western beliefs on non-westernized societies. I think that in this case, protecting our daughters should be a universal concern, and supersede all other ideologies.

  3. Aaron Allen

     /  July 27, 2011

    Not only in underdeveloped parts of the world–give the new oral contraception pill to boys/unmarried males;
    Norplant 5-yr injection to girls/unmarried females…Teach ’em all sex education and don’t violate their anat-
    omy or subject them to cruel/painful/dangerous mutilation…Halt prostitution,slavery, etc…Make ’em wear
    modest clothing and encourage athletics, working out…Aaron Allen…