I have heard of female genital mutilation, neck elongation and all kinds of weird cultural practices from several parts of the world and Africa but never thought that someday, I‘d hear of one coming from my own country Cameroon.
It is a shame that in this date and time people are still very ignorant about so many different things. I know that every culture should be respected but there are certain things that are just too cruel to conceive.
In Africa and Cameroon to be precise so many parents fear that their young girls would turn up pregnant before they marry or finish school. I remember my mother used to tell me, when I was eight, that if I shook hands with a boy, I’d get pregnant. Thank goodness she told me that. I believed it so much that I didn’t even want a boy to look at me, much less touch me! I had my very first kiss when I was 19 years old and it was a moment to treasure for someone who’d thought would get pregnant by shaking the hand of someone of the opposite sex.
Well, thank goodness I didn’t get pregnant! I was wise enough to know and thankful that I had a great mom who started to talk to us about sex and boys. Yes, she laid it all out once we started menstruating. And as you can imagine, every girls’ menstrual cycle was a joyful one. I was always glad to have my period even though I had never had sex before. I just knew that I was not pregnant and it made me proud because I was waiting for that special moment after marriage.
It is sad to know that there are still some parents who are ignorant enough to consort to painful and unimaginable process to try to keep boys off their daughters. I learned recently that it’s called “Breast Ironing” and some tribes in my own country practice it. It is a process done to keep boys away from girl children, since a fully grown breast would call attention and bring in the assumption that the girl is ready for sex.
A girl called Geraldine recounted her very painful experience “My mother took a pestle, she warmed it well in the fire and then she used it to pound my breasts while I was lying down. She took the back of a coconut, warmed it in the fire and used it to iron the breasts. I was crying and trembling to escape but there was no way."
Another girl confessed “I wanted to go to school like other girls who had no breasts,"
Even a mother acknowledged “Breast ironing is not a new thing. I am happy I protected my daughter. I could not stand the thought of boys spoiling her with sex before she completed school," one woman explained.
"Unfortunately, television is encouraging all sorts of sexual immorality in our children."
Apparently 26% of Cameroonian girls go through this during puberty.
It is sad to know that these women know very little about sex education: talking to their kids about sex and not risking their lives with brutality.