Hot stones on the breasts begin to target. Sometimes the corn mash sticks, sometimes other flat objects, but always burning. Breast ironing is the suffering one in four girls in Cameroon. Mothers or other female family members are responsible to practice with the belief that breast growth slows their daughters and, therefore, away from sexual relations, consensual or not, are protected from the lustful eyes men and perhaps prevent unwanted pregnancies.
You have to press hard on those little breasts begin to develop. Up and down, as plancharía a garment. But the child is a little body to endure the pain of these attacks that damage tissue, cause wounds, abscesses, infections and, eventually, could predispose to cancer. Day after day, until the desired result. Sometimes the medium of choice is the hot cloth bandage. They are usually several months of torture. It is an ancient tradition in parts of West Africa and known in the case of Cameroon, a country that borders the 20 million inhabitants.
This form of "female genital mutilation," as the official agency calls the German cooperation GTZ, which has played a pioneering role in revealing this practice and combat, the experience at least 24% of women in Cameroon, according to the agency . A begin earlier, at greater risk."The sooner you begin to develop the breast, the risk from this form of mutilation. Half of the girls whose breasts begin to develop before the age of nine ironing experience," said a work of GTZ, 2007.
The Department of State United States, a report on human rights in this country from Africa in 2010, echoes of the problem in similar terms, adding that the practice "causes burns, deformities and psychological problems."
Germanic agency conducted extensive research in 2006 with surveys to 5,700 women from 10 to 82 years, also revealed half of girls whose breasts began to grow before the nine years suffer from this practice more prevalent in cities than in the field. 53% of the girls in Douala, the largest city in the country, have suffered, according to the study.
A Mendu, the pain does not achieve its objective Ironing protector: many girls become pregnant, which immediately sets them apart from the school. They get married or become single mothers. Some may seek an illegal abortion (only allowed in cases of rape or endangers the health of the mother). In Cameroon, three in ten women are pregnant or have had at least one child at the age of 20 years, according to GTZ, and only 26% of married women using contraception.
The age for marriage is 15 years for women, but according to the U.S. report, many families marry off girls at 12. This work also points to the increase in rape, the victims have an average age of 15.
Apart from early pregnancies, AIDS is also a threat in Cameroon. The incidence is high.For every 1,000 people aged between 15 and 49, 53 are HIV positive, according to World Health Organization. Life expectancy in this country with 40% of animists, Christians and as much 20% of Muslims, is 51 years.
Some experts believe that after practice Ironing is the taboo of discussing sex with children and that is where I could come there for part of the solution. That is precisely one of the ways that have been launched to try to stop this practice. The "aunties" (Tantine, in the affectionate diminutive French) are responsible small. They are not family, but they are teenagers who have been unwillingly mothers between 12 and 18 years (something that happens it is estimated that 21% of girls).
Framed in more than 250 associations under the umbrella Renata, some 15,000 youth have been trained to educate adolescents on sexual and reproductive health, including prevention of AIDS. With the support of German cooperation, the Tantine have launched the media campaign say no to breast ironing.
On their website (www.tantines.org), activists clearly explained the reasons underlying the sordid practice of pressing. "People think that breasts are going to attract men, the breasts will push girls to early sexual activity that can leave them pregnant, girls can grow normally and continue their studies after ironing, girls have no shame for having breasts and "they explain.
They also address the consequences of a practice "that causes much pain and can destroy the breasts completely," cause a severe trauma and cause physiological problems.
From village to village, from neighborhood to neighborhood, preach against a practice that burns female puberty and whose secret is broken gradually.