Tackling the Socialisation of Young African Girls

Breast ironing is common in West and Central Africa, including Guinea-Bissau, Chad, Togo, Benin, Guinea-Conakry, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya and Zimbabwe. It’s particularly prevalent in Cameroon: there, the number of girls who have been subjected to breast ironing is estimated be as high as one in three (around 1.3 million).There has been renewed calls for stronger action against the practice, which is observed to prevent the development of a girl’s breasts and subsequently reduce the sexual attention she may receive. It involves using an object to massage, pound, or press the breasts flat. According to the United Nations, 3.8 million teenagers worldwide have been affected by breast flattening. It’s estimated that about 1,000 girls from West African communities across the UK have been subjected to the practice, but the figure could be much higher. UK Aid, for example, funds a social movement called The Girls Generation which works throughout Africa to reverse the social norms underpinning female genital mutilation.


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