Breast Ironing

I just read an article about breast ironing–the practice of trying to flatten and diminish breast tissue in pubescent girls. I’d never heard of the practice before today and as I was reading the article, I thought to myself,”Why??” When I learned that the girls’ family-members were often the ones committing this act, I began to understand. They’re mothers attempt to stave off the breast development of their daughters in an effort to make them less attractive to potential rapists.

The article detailed efforts to stop the practice itself but failed to detail how government officials are addressing the rape problem. Why do we leave this aspect out of conversations about protecting women and children? Mothers have gone to extraordinary lengths to save their children from horrendous fates for centuries. Slave mothers have killed their own children rather than see them sold into slavery. Breast ironing is termed “abuse,” but I ask you, what would the mothers of these girls say that they’re doing?

While we’re trying to stamp out the practice itself, let’s not forget why it started. Let’s remember the world that we live in: a world in which women and girls are sexualized from birth, a world in which women are advised not to travel alone at night or accept drinks they didn’t mix themselves, a world in which women are still judged by how much they put others’ needs ahead of their own. Maybe if we made our world safer for women and girls…..

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