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« Law N° 2008/001 of 14 April 2008 Amending the Constitution of Cameroon | Main | Joe la Conscience: Cameroon’s Forgotten Prisoner of Conscience »

April 17, 2008

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Mabelle

Of course there can be no outrage either on this forum or even back in Cameroon. Now, if the title was "Biya imposes breast ironing in Cameroon" then patriots of all stripes, self-styled human rights and democracy activists would have come out of the wood work... So this shameful practice will continue for as long as Cameroon exists. Too bad for us and for these girls....

paulo laurent

THIS ISSUE DOESSNT CONCERS ANY BRITISH SOUTHERN CAMEROONIANS,
EVEN AS THE WRITING ON THE BLACKBOARD IS
IN ENGLISH, THESE CHILDREN AND CULTURE IS A FOREIGN CULTURE OF FRENCH CAMEROUNESE ESPECIALLY DEEP IN THE FOREST OF YAOUNDE, MBALNMAYO, YOUKADOUMAD ESEKA ETC. THEY NEVER OWN UP TO THEIR FILTHY CULTURE AND MISDEEDS INSTEAD, THEY WILL USE THE CALL-NAME (CAMEROUN, AND INTERNATIONALISE IT AS IF WE ARE ANONYMOUS TO THESE KIND OF SILLY
PRIMITIVE ACTS. WE NEVER HEARD THE BEFORE 1961, WE NEVER HEARD LAKE NYOS SINCE THE CREATION OF MAN. OUR FAULT IS THE 1961 EVEN, AND WE MUST CORRECT THIS BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY, TO BE A TRULLY INDEPENDENT COUNTRY. THE BRITISH SOUTHERN CAMEROONS

DOWN WITH THE THE BLACK FRENCHSATANS OF
EQUOTORIAL OF AFRICATHE EQ

Mabelle

Mr. Laurent,

For your information that video was filmed in Bamenda and all the participants, except for the reporter are Anglophones/Southern Cameroons.

I went to secondary and high school (GSS Limbe and Casst Bambili, and many of my female classmates, all "pure" Southern Cameroonians, were subjected to this barbarity. So please get off your high and horse spare me the arrogance. I am sure that if a survey was done across Cameroon today, we would realize that this is a purely Anglophone invention.

But of course, we would like to believe that all Francophones are backward and barbaric while all Anglophones are angels and epitomes of civilization. Hogwash!

paulo laurent

mabelle
the quetion is since when did this practise
began, surely its imported from this come no go foreigners . because we had never experienced this in the history of british southern cameroons, but all the time this sickening culture have been written
in the press , of these acts going on in LA REPUBLIQUE DU CAMEROUN.
I know in your mind you still beliebe that there is only one cameroon IE
only if you were born after 1972.
but A NATIONS HISTORY AND CULTURE IS FAR MORE THAN 40 YEARS.

DO SOME READING BEFORE JUMPING INTO FALSE
CONCLUSION. YOU HAVE ALL THESE FRENCH NEGROES WITH BACKWARD CULTURES WHO HAD SWARMED THE WHOLE TERRITORY FROM LOUIS EYAY TO ZANGWANA, JEAN AND ALL THE REST, THE POLICES, THE GERDAMES, THE RIOTERS IN VICTORIA RECENTLY CARRYING FRENCH WRITTEN PLACARDS SURELY ARE NOT ONE OF US. SOO, KNOW THY SELF.

Akume

Laurent, shut up your big mouth, and address important issues with important ideas, not this fake and unrealistic goal of yours. When will you realize that this rhetorics of yours about southern Cameroon is a mere illusion.If you don't have anything to contribute, then just like others and shut. Hee goat!!

paulo laurent

AKUME, AN ILLUSION IS SOMETHING THAT DONT AND NEVR EXIST, BUT BRITISHSOUTHERN CAMEROOONS IS A FACT OF MY HISTORY ITS AN
IDENTITY ,ITS MY COUNTRY, THAT I LIVE NAD DIE FOR. NOW WITH THAT SAID WHETHER ANY NE LIKES IT OR NOT, THEY SHOULD JUST SWALLOW THEIR EVIL INTENT.

Samira Edi

These are the sorts of barbaric cultural practices which the parliament should be fighting to pass a bill to eradicate in Parliament.

Instead, the carpetbaggers have taken their 30 pieces of silver and betrayed the nation by perpetuating the regime of a clueless tyrant.

Cameroon is a nation soaking in alcohol. No doubt sex is so rampant. Shame on Biya

Emil Mondoa, M.D.

I completely missed this one while practicing in Banso, Tiko and Buea in the early to mid 80s, and I did not miss much. I suspect that it was a narrow ethnic practice that became widespread since that time.

Banning the practice is a legalistic measure suggested by another commentator which must be balanced by education and protection of the young and vulnerable from sexual abuse. The mothers who resort to this practice have a genuine fear of predatory males, no longer bound by traditional controls. This fear for their children would override any legal measures in any society, if there is no understanding of the social roots of the problem.

Precocious puberty is also a modern problem. Young girls are developing secondary sexual characteristics (precocious puberty) as early as six years of age in the United States, and now in Africa. This problem has been linked to improved nutrition. Environmental contamination is also suggested as a cause, including hair products for black women that contain varieties of estrogen (the hormone that promotes breast development) as well as pollutants from plastics and other chemicals that find their way into drinking water and food, and have an estrogenic effect on female breast tissues as well as reducing sperm counts in males.

I hope this gives a fuller context in which to view the problem.

Njela

Excerpt of interesting discussion on a Cameroonian forum:
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Comment# 1:
Beast ironing was very rampant when I was growing up in the CDC camps. The CDC camps are a kaleidoscope of cultures. Many of my female schoolmates where ironed. Interesting enough, while the mothers where busy ironing some of the girls were busy trying to offset it by using insects to sting their breasts. Apart from momentary swells I doubt if the insects ever made their breasts grow any larger than normal. African cosmetic surgery?

Comment #2:
What years were you growing up in what CDC Camps? And it is apparent that this practice in the South West might have been introduced by non-indigenes. If you're referring to CDC Camps in Tiko, you may recall that it is a haven for workers who were brought to the place from other parts of Cameroon.

Comment #3:
I was at Meanja in Muyuka in the eighties. That's where I got my primary education under the famous Pa Kodjo (Mr. Sob Paul). You are right that breast ironing might be foreign to the South West province since the region has harbored a great wave of migrants from other parts of the country.That's why I said the CDC camps are a melting pot of cultures. People there sometimes exhibited lifestyles not native to their places of origin. The women had these social groups called neighbor meetings. Their approach to certain issues sometimes depended on which tribe dominated the membership. For instance, there was a time when all the women threatened to wash their privates and throw the water at the door of a man who had insulted one of theirs. The guy was lucky that one of his tribe woman leaked the plan to him.

Sometimes when confronted by a problem a family might not necessarily fall back on their own culture for solutions. They at times sought advice from friends and neighbors, whose suggestions would definitely be influenced by their own backgrounds. So, it could be common to see a Bakundu women ironing her daughter's breast. It could be common to see a Bangwa woman threatening to strip in front of her recalcitrant son. In Bangwa as in many other African tribes gazing on one's parent's nudity is a taboo. However, using one's nakedness to inflict punishment is not native to Bangwa, not as far as I know.

Going back to the breast ironing video, I think the Cameroonian activist still needs some training in this kind of activism. I could tell she is just driven by passion and probably bitterness at the practice, but she needs to master the methodology to tackle the problem. And then her laughter at some point in video made me wonder if she was laughing at her own misdeed or just giggling out of feeling uncomfortable with the camera.

today's ranting

This is so babaric. This is violation of human right. I wonder when such acts would stop in Africa.I have never heared of this before, arghhhhh it's so appaling.

UnitedstatesofAfrica

Paulo Laurent, with due respect, you are a willful IDIOT!!!! This issue is culturally-oriented and not politically-motivated. Your unfettered zeal to spin everything into a Southern Cameroons issue is quickly morphing you into an imbecile. Please ignore this fool. He belongs in an psychiatric ward.

Innocent Ndifor Mancho

There are more barnaric practices in the world than breast ironing. and for the love of God, we should stop pretending and trying to play the holiness here. the question is not the fact that mothers iron the breast of the children. it goes beyong the simple physical act of breast ironing.

there are clues in the history of cameroon and even africa that will explain and to some extend justify why mothers have opted for this painful way to "protect" their children.

In the old days of inter-tribal ways, young girls were usually taken captive as booty. girls with breast were the most likely targets. also, in those times girls were literally sold into marriage by the men. what other method was there to judge a girls marriage (market)value if not for the size of her breasts? in those times, the woman including the girl child were considered as a property of the man. mothers had to protect their daughters from being captured as slaves of war or sold into marriage by greedy men through suppressing any signs of physical maturity. the only instrument at their disposal then was the fire and the stone. the simplest solution was IRON THE BREAST

today breast ironing is rationalised by the economic hardship and the need for empowerment through education. it is a mother's cry for help. a mother's desparate attempt to protect her young one from the claws of viperous licentiousness lustfulness of men. how many of us feel attracted to girls without breasts? there is evidence that girls with breast no matter their age are more susceptible to being raped in cameroon than girsl without breasts.

instead of crying foul and blaming the poor woman for being sensitive to the dangers that her daughter faces from us, we should identify the danger that we pose to them. if we should change our attitudes and be more responsible in our promiscuity, i believe these woman will find no reason to subject our daughters through this.

UnitedstatesofAfrica

Well said Innocent. Finally, an intellectual modernist whose wisdom is rooted in traditional values and norms. Let your write-up teach these assimilated Africans who come here and say "Oh! Africans are so barbaric".

Berinyuy

Yes,UnitedstatesofAfrica that's all u know,to go about praising other's ingenuity instead of developing yours.If Innocent Ndifor Mancho could present an intellectual and balanced debate like he did,it's bc he took his time to reflect,not like u who jumps on every argument without a dint of reflection or brains.In every forum u want to prove that u can argue.

Hope ur failed assylum procedure isn't making u go mad

UnitedstatesofAfrica

Berinyuy,

I can see that you are obsessed with me. I am sorry to disappoint you but I am have a girlfriend. Go and find somebody else you freak of nature.

You also seem to know a lot about the asylum process. Are you speaking from experience?

Berinyuy

You this Ben Muna's mercenary and failed assylum seeker.I got nothing to hide like u who spends his whole life hiding his identity somewhere in the US or Europe.I know much about the assylum procedure out there when I was the Secretary of my ward.Some of u used to almost "leak my toes" just to get an affidavit.U think I don't know all the lies u guys tell out there? After failing the assylum procedure,u come here to vent ur anger on the SDF and its Chairman.Go and clean your mouths where u got it dirtied it in the first place and ask ur ancestors to intercede for u.Then maybe u may succeed,and leve the SDF alone

Macadamia Cake

Cosmetic surgery, another common practice in the West is another barbaric custom that needs to be checked together with this breast ironing deal.

UnitedstatesofAfrica

Hahahahahaha. Macadamia, that was a very good one. Hahahahahahaha

alpha2omega

cameroonians, have we lost so much respect for humanity we don't know how to be humble any more? This is not a Francophone or anglophone issue. This is not a southern Cameroon or west, south, east issue. This is a test of our humanity and our resolve as beings. We have failed grossly politically. We should all galvanise and refuse to fail collectively as humans, earthlings if you like. We have no choice because if we disagree on an issue like this we would never agree on anything. We are a bunch of very intelligent people. Time to stand up and not let the fools amongst us spoil our humanity.

Samira Edi

I think blaming the victims for "maturing early" or premature sexual dvelopment is the wrong perception of the issue. Something is terribly loose about the moral fiber of the Cameroonian fabric.

The collective of the Cameroonian woman, who are meant to be the moral guardians of the society have abdicated their responsibility; they are just as loose as the men, with randy little minxes running around loose attracting old married men, mothers as well as daughters all hung-over from an intoxicating orgy of alcoholism and debauchery.

Cameroon is steeped in a culture of moral decadence. Sex is so rampant and sex crimes treated with such levity, it is not normal.

Until more Cameroonians travelled out of the country, they will never understand just what a rotten theirs is. Just move over to neighbouring Nigeria, and the culture is totally different, with tight-knit family circles, where the community imposes its moral mores as a cultural impreative.

Nlatane

think blaming the victims for "maturing too early" or premature sexual development is the wrong perception of the issue.

Something is terribly loose about the moral fiber of the Cameroonian fabric.
The collective of the Cameroonian woman, who are meant to be the moral guardians of the society have abdicated their responsibility; they are just as bad as the men, with randy little minxes running around loose attracting old married men— mothers as well as daughters are in competition, all hung-over from an intoxicating orgy of alcoholism and debauchery.

Sometimes women old and young are fighting over the same man. I know of a mother in Bamenda who was having an affair with a married man. She introduced her two jezebel daughters into that man’s home, and not long afterwards, the man was cheating on all three of them with each other and they all knew it and accepted it.

Cameroon is steeped in a culture of moral decadence as the people caught in a cycle of depravity; Sex is so rampant and sex crimes treated with such levity, it is not normal in any civilized society.

Until more Cameroonians traveled out of the country, they will never understand just how deeply rotten theirs really is. Just move over to neighboring Nigeria and the culture is totally different, with tight-knit family units, where the community imposes its moral mores as a cultural imperative.

Beer-drinking, our national sport, has clearly beaten everything else to second and third place. And while our politics and our economy are slithering on their stomachs like dying lizards, the people are hazy with drink.

LEONIE

speaking of break iroining in cameroon, i am a comeroonain who has never heard of such thing as breast iroining. so i disagree with this video because this can be only happening in certain part in cameroon specificlly some villages. and for the mothers out there who are doing that, i don't think is good idea because that can put the bad idea into the innocent child. why i said this is because if your child is asking why you are doing this you have to give an answer and that answer will '' not to attract boy'' only that give them already the idea which they had never thought of it.

Mfor Christopher Kanjo

This is foreign, i can't believe this is happening in Cameroon

whona

For those who doubt that this exist, read this news item
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
CAMEROON: Campaign launched to counter 'breast ironing'

Photo: Sylvia Spring/IRIN
The practice is used to protect young women from being noticed by men
YAOUNDE, 28 June 2006 (PlusNews) - Activists in Cameroon have begun breaking the silence about 'breast ironing', widely used to protect young women from being noticed by men.

Rarely mentioned, especially to men, the 'ironing' involves massaging the growing breasts of young girls to make them disappear, usually by using a stone, a hammer or a spatula that has been heated over coals.

Now a campaign launched by the German cooperation agency, GTZ, and a local nongovernmental organisation that supports young mothers, the Network of Aunties (RENATA), has warned that using the practice to retard natural physical development is dangerous as well as ineffective.

According to a national survey conducted by GTZ, 24 percent of young girls in Cameroon, and up to 53 percent in the coastal Littoral province in the southeast, where the country's main port, Douala, is situated, admit to having had their breasts 'ironed'. The research also showed that 3.8 million young people could be at risk of exposure to the practice.

Flavien Ndonko, an anthropologist with GTZ's German-Cameroon HIV/AIDS health programme, noted that this painful form of mutilation could not only have negative health consequences for the girls, but was also a futile form of sex education.

"Many of the RENATA girls, who are young mothers, say they were subjected to 'ironing', and this clearly proves that it does not work [as pregnancy prevention] and that it is a futile and traumatic experience imposed on them," said Ndonko.

Young people make up most of the 5.5 percent of the population living with HIV, and teenage pregnancy is a growing concern. One-third of the 20 to 30 percent of girls with unwanted pregnancies are between 13 and 25 years of age, with more than half of them having fallen pregnant after their first sexual encounter, according to GTZ.

Addressing the general lack of information about sex in the family ran counter to acceptable social norms, GTZ and RENATA pointed out.

"For the parents, it is very difficult to talk of sexuality due to modesty or for cultural reasons ... So they prefer to get rid of the bodily signs of sexuality in this way," Ndonko commented. "However, the onset of adolescence is exactly the right time to start this discussion."

Because the topic of sex was taboo, young girls remained ignorant of how to protect themselves from HIV infection and were even more vulnerable to the virus, said Bessem Arrey Ebanga Bisong, executive secretary of RENATA.

A mother, who asked not be named, admitted that 'breast ironing' was "not a good solution. I did it to my first two daughters out of ignorance, but what must I do with the third one?"

One of her neighbours suggested a solution: "She said I must speak to her [the daughter] and teach her about sexuality. We do not have a dialogue with our children; we don't have the courage to do so. However, we do need to explain to them so they know what it is that they are doing."

According to Ndoko, the newly launched awareness campaign has generated a lot of discussion, and the practice is now being openly talked about.

"This is a good way to resolve the problem: people talk about it and ask why it is being done," said Ndoko. "As there is no way to justify it, they realise that it is a futile practice and, hopefully, they will stop doing it."

http://www.plusnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=39711

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