Friday, July 23, 2010
It seems that over and over we see a new way people want to control bodies, and more specifically women's bodies. In Cameroon, mother's are ironing the breasts (here, here) of their young (as young as 9 years old) daughters in order to delay development and "protect" them from early pregnancy and rape. About a quarter of girls nationwide undergo this procedure. Their mothers take a hot stone or something similar, and press them on the barely developed breasts while twisting, which is not only physically painful, but probably also causes psychological and long term physical damage.
They do this to stop their bodies from attracting men and save them from early teen pregnancy, which is very high in Cameroon. Once a girl becomes pregnant, they never finish school.
What we have here is yet another example of not only controlling women's bodies, but of victim blaming. By placing the blame of rape on her breast development, it becomes the girl's fault for her rape. And so her body is changed, deformed, made to accommodate the current rape culture, instead of teaching those who rape that the simple existence of breasts is not excuse, reason, or invitation for anything.
In a video from CurrentTV, an anthropologist says that many mothers think, "Maybe if I remove the signs of sexuality on the body, then that body will attract nobody for some time". This kind of thinking reduces a woman, not just to men but to themselves, as only a body, that ultimately will only be good for sex.
If we still aren't convinced that comprehensive sex education is a necessity, then I don't know what else to show you.