We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Breast Ironing?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Breast ironing is a practice involving pounding the chest of a girl entering puberty with heated objects to prevent or limit development of the breasts. This practice has been most widely observed in the African nation of Cameroon, where a 2006 study indicated that as many as one in four women and girls had been subjected to breast ironing, usually by a mother, although some girls did it to themselves. People engage in this practice in the belief that it will prevent people from viewing young women as sexually available, as the development of breasts is often taken as a signal that a girl is ready for sexual activity.

A wide variety of objects are used in breast ironing including stones, pestles, and banana peels. These objects are heated and applied to the chest to damage the breast tissue. The breasts may be pounded or massaged to further break up the breasts. Complications can include permanent tissue damage, abscesses, infections, and extreme pain for the patient. Some medical researchers have expressed concern that the practice may also increase the risk of developing cancer by causing abnormal tissue changes that could eventually become cancerous.

In Cameroon, as in other nations, the development of breasts is heralded as a step into womanhood. Girls may be forced to marry as soon as their breasts develop, and if not forced to marry, they are often taken out of school and sequestered by family members concerned that they may bring shame on the family by engaging in sexual activity. Some mothers and daughters argue that this practice provides more opportunities to girls by allowing them to complete school and avoid forced marriages at young ages.

As quality of life in Cameroon has improved, many women enter puberty at increasingly early ages. Breast ironing can start as early as age eight or nine. The practice is physically, as well as emotionally, traumatic. Human rights groups in Cameroon argue that breast ironing should be banned, and the practice is regularly discussed in human rights reports from the region. Awareness campaigns focused on addressing common justifications for breast ironing are being used to encourage people to avoid the practice.

Groups pushing for an end to breast ironing in Cameroon have campaigned on related human rights issues like ensuring access to education for women and girls in Cameroon, ending child marriages, and establishing a better framework for handling sexual assault and rape. These campaigns are designed to eliminate many of the arguments for breast ironing to lead to an end to the practice.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By roundup — On Oct 25, 2011


Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.