Mother 'ironed' daughter's breasts when she was a teen to make her 'ugly' so no one would admire her
The victim, identified as "Simone," is among nearly a thousand women and girls in the country feared to have been subjected to the dangerous procedure.
A woman in Britain has revealed that her mother ironed her breasts when she was thirteen years old after discovering she was a lesbian. The revelation has been made amid calls of awareness regarding the horrendous practice, which activists say amounts to abuse, to be taught in schools in the UK.
The victim, identified as "Simone," is among nearly a thousand women and girls in the country feared to have undergone the dangerous procedure, according to the Daily Mail.
The painful practice involves adolescent girls' chests being pressed down with a hot stone in an effort to delay their breast formation. The procedure is done under the false belief that it will protect them from male attention.
Simone, while talking to BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme, said that her mother hoped that a flat chest would make her daughter "ugly and no one will admire me."
"It's really an abuse. It dehumanizes you - you are not a human being. They hold your hands and then they press on your breast. It really hurts," she said.
"Imagine a hot object on your bare body and when you're going out you have this stripe that they can tie on your breast. At times you find difficulty in breathing."
Reports state that the victim was left with long-term damage, which hindered the flow of milk when breastfeeding the child she had with a husband she was forced to marry.
The ritual is thought to be primarily performed by mothers and grandmothers from African countries, however, over recent years concerns have mounted that the procedure is also being widely practiced in the UK.
Community workers from various parts of the UK, including London and Yorkshire, told the Guardian that pre-teens from multiple migrant communities from African countries had undergone breast ironing in Britain.
One activist claimed they knew of at least 20 recent such cases in Croydon alone: "It's usually done in the UK, not abroad like FGM (female genital mutilation)."
Another victim, while talking to the Victoria Derbyshire programme, said that she was subjected to breast ironing at the age of ten. Her mother reportedly told her that if she did not undergo the procedure "men will start coming to you to have sex with you."
"You're not even allowed to cry out. If you do, you (are said to) have brought shame to your family, you are not a 'strong girl'," she told the programme.
The National Education Union in the UK has urged that breast ironing awareness be included in compulsory school curriculum in an effort to protect girls from abuse.
The organization's joint president Kiri Tunks said that school staff, particularly PE teachers, should be taught on how to notice the signs of the procedure in young girls.
Conservative MP Nicky Morgan has also backed the NEU proposal, saying teachers must be able to advise any girls affected by the procedure on what actions to be taken.