The abuse heaped upon women, never ceases to amaze me. Here in London we have seen a marked increase in the number of sexual assaults against women on trains. The seriousness of the matter may have been lost in the furore caused by the press misrepresenting Jeremy Corbyn. He suggested investigating women only carriages as a preventative measure. Such measures are minor when compared to the precautionary practice of Breast Ironing.
Breast “ironing” or “flattening” is a painful practice that remains largely unstudied. An object is used to massage, pound, or press the breasts flat. The practice generally affects girls between 8 to 12 years of age. The intention is not to harm the girls but to protect the girls from rape, pre-marital sex and premarital pregnancy. Therefore outright condemnation or criminalisation is unlikely to be constructive.
Rebecca Tapscott in her report ‘Understanding Breast “Ironing”’ recommends a ‘three-pronged approach that first, raises awareness and public discussion of the practice; second, educates people on human biology and the futility of breast flattening; and third, addresses the originating conditions of sexual exploitation of girls that cuts across economic, social, and regional divisions in Cameroon and West Africa.’
I think that it is essential that we empower women and young girls to speak out. It is also very important that boys are educated on how to respect, value and communicate with girls. Not just in developing nations but also in the west, where the attacks on women are increasing. Only by promoting equality will societies be able to stop attacks on women.