Introducing the Practice of Breast Ironing as a Human Rights Issue in Cameroon
Breast ironing is a form of violence that takes place in certain regions of Cameroon. It is a violent practice which is forced upon young girls who have just entered puberty, and is mostly performed by mothers on their daughters. It is one of the most widespread and systematic violations of the universal human rights to personal integrity committed against the girl child in Cameroon, abusing their physical, sexual and psychological integrity. Cameroon has ratified a number of international and regional human rights instruments that protect women and girl children from all forms of violence. However, despite Cameroon’s obligations under international law, this practice continues to be widespread.
This article introduces the practice of breast ironing as a human rights issue, and will look at its history, social context, prevalence, rationale and consequences. It will discuss and analyse relevant international and African regional human rights instruments to which Cameroon is a party to and which protects women and girl children from violence. It will also look at the existing normative framework in Cameroon and examine steps taken to regulate this practice.
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