Anne, victim of breast ironing: “As long as I am questioned on this, I will speak!”

From the age of 11 to 13, Anne was a victim of breast ironing. A mutilation little publicized, but widespread in certain African countries, which consists in crushing the mammary gland of the young girls in order to slow down the development of the chest. At the time, Anne was told it was “a breast massage” to keep the boys from staring at her and so she could focus on her studies.

Now living in Toulouse and mother of three children, the young woman has managed to find a certain balance in her life, but the trauma she has suffered still pursues her. The breast reconstruction from which she benefited a few years ago will probably never completely erase the still deep-rooted psychic wounds.

For Anne, the ordeal lasted two long years. At dawn, his grandmother would take him to the back kitchen of the house where aunts and older cousins ​​were waiting for him to burn his chest with a stone just out of the embers. Then, as if nothing had happened, the women of the family sent little Anne, injured, at school. “All I know is that I didn’t say anything. I said to myself that it was my turn and that I had to shut my mouth.  

One day, then aged 13, Anna learns that his little sister has just suffered the same fate. Mad with rage, Anne threatens her executioners to reveal everything to her mother who lives in France and to hire a lawyer there. In her family, breast ironing stopped overnight. But “there are always little girls, in some African countries, in any case, who suffer this in silence”, laments Anne. She implores the many victims to come out of the silence and request that breast ironing be supported by the WHO, in the same way as excision.

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