Breckland School

Breast Ironing/Flattening

Breast ironing refers to the practice of massaging or pounding young girls’ breasts with heated objects to suppress or reverse the growth of breasts. A range of objects used may be used including stones, hammers and spatulas that have been heated.

The practice has been documented primarily in Cameroon, but is also practiced in Guinea-Bissau, Chad, Togo, Benin, and Guinea. Cases have been found in the UK, particularly London and Birmingham.

Breast ironing is often performed by mothers or female relatives of victims. It is, wrongly, thought that performing breast ironing will protect their girls from rape, unwanted sexual advances, early sex, and pregnancies, all of which they fear would result from the appearance that a girl has reached the age of puberty. The practice is most likely to occur and the start of/during puberty.

Currently, awareness of and knowledge about the practice is at a low level amongst professionals including the police and education.

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