Estelle (12) is happy, cared for by a mother who has fought against the mutilation of her daughter's breasts. She is one of the lucky ones. 1 in 4 girls in Cameroon are affected by breast ironing, a form of female mutilation inflicted on young girls, often by older female relatives. They apply hot stones to the girls' breasts to reduce their sexual activity. This project will campaign to raise awareness, educate girls and their families and offer psychological support to those already affected.
Breast ironing is a form of female mutilation practiced in parts of Cameroon. A deeply embedded traditional practice, it is inflicted on 10-17 year-old girls, often by older female relatives. It involves applying hot stones to their breasts in the belief it reduces their vulnerability to sexual exploitation. In reality not only does it not have the desired impact (1/3 of unwanted pregnancies are in girls aged 13-25), but it has strong negative effects on the girls' physical and mental health.
The project will be in Loum, a community of around 150,000 people, and address the whole community, including the traditional leaders, government officials, all community members. The project will carry out research to identify the numbers involved and understand better people's beliefs around the issue; raise awareness of the consequences of the issue through campaigns; educate girls and their families, and offer psychological support to those already affected
This project will improve the life chances among 500 adolescent girls by reducing the incidence of breast ironing, together with the associated health problems both at the time of the mutilation and later in life. It will also boost the confidence of the girls and remove both health and psychological barriers to gaining a better education, employment and stable family life