‘Breast Ironing’ Is Affecting Millions Of Girls. *Warning Extremely Graphic*

By Michael Avery in Bizarre On 16th October 2015

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‘Breast ironing' is the process of pounding or massaging a teenage girls' breasts with a hard or heated object to stop them from developing. And, shockingly, it is more common in the UK than you may think.

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The practice originated in Africa, but according to the UK National Committee for UN Women it affects around 3.8 million women and girls around the world. In countries such as Cameroon, it is traditional that a teenage girl's mum carries out the practice in the hope of protecting the girl from sexual harassment and rape.

It is also used, unbelievably, as a method to stop teenage pregnancy which could tarnish a families reputation and as a way of delaying puberty so girls can continue their education, rather than being forced into child marriage.

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It can last anything from a few days to a couple of weeks, and instruments used to perform the practice range from wooden pestles, bananas, coconut shells, grinding stones, spatulas and hammers heated over hot coals.

Big hot stones like the one pictured below are often pressed against a young girl's chest to manage breast tissue and prevent its growth.

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This stone is used for breast flattening! Unsurprisingly, breast ironing is incredibly painful and can cause long-lasting tissue damage, problems with breastfeeding and some medical experts have suggested it could be a contributing factor in the development of breast cancer.

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But this isn't just an issue in Africa. Charities and victims recently told Channel 4 news that breast ironing is happening in the UK, within West African communities. One victim told the programme:

"My dad kept going on and on about the fact my breasts were coming out: ‘men are going to be looking at her'"

Activist and FGM survivor Leyla Hussein has explained breast ironing as "just another way to control a woman's sexuality." She continued:

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"‘Breasts become a dangerous body part that must be removed in case they attract male attention, as if removing all signs of femininity from a girl's body could protect her from being raped.

‘I underwent FGM for my ‘safety' too. What an absurd world we live in when women's bodies are not considered safe in their natural state, and men are not considered responsible for controlling their own urges.'"

*The video below demonstrates the horrifying practice, but some viewers may find the footage distressing*