When I posted last week about the surgical procedure of hymen repair
(and how it's used to fake the appearance of virginity) some people commented that the practice was so widely known that it scarcely warranted inclusion on the site. These same people will doubtless also be familiar with the Cameroon practice of 'breast ironing', but it's new to me, so I'm guessing it'll be new to some other people as well.
According to the BBC
, breast ironing:
"involves pounding and massaging the developing breasts of young girls with hot objects to try to make them disappear. Statistics show that 26% of Cameroonian girls at puberty undergo it, as many mothers believe it protects their daughters from the sexual advances of boys and men who think children are ripe for sex once their breasts begin to grow. The most widely used instrument to flatten the breasts is a wooden pestle, used for pounding tubers in the kitchen. Heated bananas and coconut shells are also used."
It sounds extremely unpleasant, but the BBC notes that there hasn't been any medical research into the medical effects of it (though doctors warn that it could cause serious damage), so I wonder if it actually prevents tissue growth. And if so, is it only a temporary effect or permanent? I suppose that if you damage the tissue enough it will stunt growth, but I would think that heavy exercise would have a greater effect and be a lot healthier (thin, athletic girls such as ballet dancers and competitive swimmers are known to start puberty later).