In Cameroon, many mothers pound and “iron” flat the breasts of their daughters with heated bananas or coconut shells, hoping to discourage the sexual advances of males who see developed breasts as indicators of sexual maturity.
A nationwide campaign is under way in Cameroon to discourage the widespread practice of “breast ironing”.
This 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.