(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.

Some mothers use hot stones or coconut shells to flatten their daughters' breasts.

Doctors believe improved diets have resulted in young Cameroonian girls going through puberty early. Many of them are also becoming pregnant early.

Terisia became pregnant at 15. Her child died at birth.

She told CNN that breast ironing doesn't work. She hates the practice and wishes her mother had instead talked to her about sex and preventing pregnancy.

Grace Techu argues that if it weren't for the breast ironing, Terisia would have become pregnant at an even younger age.

Techu has four daughters, and she used the procedure on the first two. The third avoided it because her breasts are growing at an acceptable rate, Techu says, and the fourth girl is still too young.

Mothers who want their children to finish school before becoming parents have resorted to this drastic measure, and many see nothing wrong with it.

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.

 

Read the rest here.

 

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[sigh] Ignorance, especially of sex and an understanding of one's body, seems to crop up more often than almost any other kind I know of.  This is the first I've heard of the practice of breast ironing.  Somehow, I doubt it'll be the last.

Tags: Cameroon, breast ironing, sex education

Views: 182

Replies to This Discussion

Ladies and Gentlemen:

The National Conference of Editorial Writers (NCEW), of which I am a member, has labeled this "TURF" or spam. There is no truth to this allegation nor is there mention of "breast ironing" in the 2009 or 2010 reports. Cameroon outlaws female circumcision in 2003.

For what it is worth, I have received this same email from 7 different sources, all questionable. This is the eighth - at least the source is credible.

As a journalist, I debunk at lease four of these a month for my readers and my friends. This is just another spam to take you attention away from the real problem, starvation.

Frankly, this is my first exposure to the issue of breast ironing, though a quick Google search gave rise to roughly 200,000 hits, including the above-referenced article and a brief piece on Wikipedia.  Granted, any number of hits such as that does not in and of itself also grant with it credibility.

I then looked into the reporter, Nkepile Mabuse.  She is formerly of South Africa's eTV and is, for the opinion of one person found with the same search online, a straightforward and credible reporter.  I would like to think that CNN doesn't hire hacks, but it would take me a lot more research to know for certain.

For myself, I have no axe to grind one way or the other ... but when I saw this article, I was saddened to find yet another apparent tradition aimed at damaging and demeaning women under the guise of making them safer ... and with that, I opted to note what I had found here.

My only comment regarding the National Conference of Editorial Writers would be that this story is all of three days old, and if the NCEW responded to it that fast, I suppose I would be a touch surprised.  Personally, before I dismissed the story, I'd be interested in talking to Ms. Mabuse herself and discover just how she dealt with this story.

I also looked at google.  Here is a story from HuffPostthat appears to be a completely separate report. 

 

I have been taken in by internet stories that were fraudulent before - such as the married american guy who was posing as a lesbain who was supposedly disappeared in Syria, and a married guy who was posing as lesbian and managed a lesbian website.  I am not naive.

 

The story looks really credible.  I dont have any axes to grind either, although some kitchen appliances do need sharpening.  Also, it's not going to affect anyone whether I beleive this story or not.  Africa has so many problems, with war, ethnicocentricity/racism, corruption, religion, scapegoating, starvation, disease, that this one more problem also isn't going to have much effect on my thought process, except to think "one more awful thing".

 

Still it looks very believable ot me.    When the Syrian Lesbian story was debunked, the people who exposed it said how they did that.  If this story is fraud, I would like to hear how the debunkers proved their case too.  If it is fraud, it is very elaborate involving multiple reporters and multiple actors in Africa.

They really went out of their way to hoax people then, with interviews of mothers who do it to their kids, women who had it done to them during puberty, and footage of mothers getting ready to do it to their cowering daughters.

 

CNN--those suckers will believe anything.

 

I'm guessing you are a cultural relativist who considers stories like these to be racist.

 

 

I went to the NCEW website.  From the masthead it looks like it is a function of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.  Even on their site, and searching on "Breast Ironing NCEW" I find no mention connecting the two.   There have been multiple comments on this post as well, with no response.  There is no explanation and no references are given.   In addition, it's strange to call it "spam" when it is clearly a news article, one of many, and not a spam email.  I looked up TURF and I still don't know what that is.

 

This leads me to beleive that the comment supposedly "debunking" breast ironing is itself fraudulent. 

So the CNN story is fraud?  It looks like any other CNN story.  How do we tell the difference?

I saw a documentary about breast ironing a couple of years ago. It included interviews with women who had been damaged by the practice as well as young girls currently being subjected to it and interviews with their mothers. Although it stopped short of actually showing the hot stones being applied to the girls' breasts, it did show the young girls' distress. If it was a hoax, it was a very well-scripted one, and someone had gone to an awful lot of trouble filming on locatation, etc.

 

text from the 2010 report as gotten on line at  :http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2010/af/154335.htm

note breast ironing in second paragraph. FGM=female genital mutilation.

The law does not prohibit FGM, which was practiced in isolated areas of the Far North, East, and Southwest regions; statistics on its prevalence were unavailable. Internal migration contributed to the spread of FGM to different parts of the country. The majority of FGM procedures were clitorectomies. The severest form of FGM, infibulation, was performed in the Kajifu area of the Southwest Region. FGM usually was practiced on infants and preadolescent girls. Public health centers in areas where FGM was frequently practiced counseled women about the harmful consequences of FGM; however, few perpetrators were caught in the act, and the government did not prosecute any persons charged with perpetrating FGM. According to the Association to Fight Violence against Women, FGM practitioners frequently conducted secret, rather than open, ceremonies following the subjection of a girl to FGM.

Breast ironing, a procedure to flatten a young girl's growing breasts with hot stones, victimized numerous girls in the country, according to press reports. The procedure was considered a way to delay a girl's physical development, thus limiting the risk of sexual assault and teenage pregnancy. Girls as young as nine were subjected to the practice, which resulted in burns, deformities, and psychological problems.

While the minimum legal age for a woman to marry is 15, many families facilitated the marriage of young girls by the age of 12. Early marriage was prevalent in the northern regions of Adamaoua, North, and particularly the remote Far North, where many girls as young as nine faced severe health risks from pregnancies. There were no statistics on the prevalence of child marriage.

Children under the age of 18 were engaged in prostitution, and the problem was believed to be pervasive, although no statistics were available.

 

 

IF THIS WERE TRUE......

if we can keep the catholic church out of there we can just educate and it sounds like they are people that care, they just are not realy educated.

just keep that filthy church away from them and I think they will accept a more modern social structure.

this is based on the fact that if the mothers did NOT care they would be doing nothing.

just start air droping comdoms over the entire area.

good plot for a movie...."air drop: condom".

;)

I don't know about the breast ironing and CNN. It wouldn't be the first time that a major news organization was taken in by an Urban Legend. In most parts of Africa the Catholic Church is very powerful. Frequently they are the only interpreters available for DWB and WHO. Dr's who go over there to work are taught certain phrases and hand signals that the women will use when they are being examined to ask for birth control or to be sterilized, because the Priest's won't translate the request's. I learned this from my daughter from another mother who is an MD and went to Africa to work with DWB for a summer. The conditions are deplorable. The medical staff aren't even provided with hand soap, gloves, masks, bleach; any of the things needed for them to protect themselves and the patients. And then on top of it all, they have to deal with interpreters with an agenda.
In an attempt to do my own fact internet checking on this, I stumbled into a nasty bit called chimpout. I knew there were racists on the internet, but I never realized how vicious they were. Yuck. NSFA (not safe for anywhere)

I have seen that crap. redneck shit man...its bad, bad, bad!

I clicked into it once and was so disgusted I ripp em an email and within a few days I was inundated with "porn come-ons" in my email box for about a month along with a few threats.

these people are ignorant, bigoted, armed and dangerous.

welcome to amerika....."you want fries with that?"

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