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Budding Breasts

With long black hair, a slender body, ebony skin and immaculate white set of teeth, Aline`s beauty was obvious to every casual observer. She was pretty and intelligent. She had just turned twelve, grandma kept an eye on her developing breasts and ripening beauty. She kept saying Aline would soon start attracting men and get pregnant before getting married if nothing is done to those breasts. Each time I approached grandma she would look at my chest closely and ask if I have seen my flower and I would ask ‘’which flower’’? she always told me me, I would know when I see it, and should tell her so she can ‘’fix’’ me. I remember a certain Friday when I visited, I met Aline on a stool near the fire, shedding tears. She had a loin tied above her breasts. She refused to tell me the source of her pain and kept her eyes fixed on grandma, when I inquired. The smaller stone with which grandma used to grind pepper, was lying near the fire together with her pestle

One day, as I approached grandmas hut, there was unusual silence but for the chirping of birds and the flowing sound of a nearby river. Grandma’s hut was locked. I heard another sound; it was Aline,groaning in pains! I peeped through a small hole on the wall of the hut, there was grandma, pressing Alines breast with her grinding stone and hot coconut shells. God! Why was she doing this? I got to understand why my beautiful cousin had changed completely; because grandma was ‘’fixing’’ her! she was always unhappy and moved with her arms covering her breast. Her once glowing beauty was gradually fading away. She refused schooling that year and got pregnant few years after.

When my breasts started shooting, I was determined not to let anyone ‘’fix ‘me and threatened to ‘’fix’’ grandma also if she dared to touch me. I loved and respected my grandmother, but could not understand how hurting me that terribly, would fix me. I obeyed every of grandmas instructions to the fullest and satisfied her with my brilliance in school but I refused to let her ‘fix me’’. My little budding breast were painful as they ripened, I did not want them to be hurt again by grandmas hot stone, coconut shells and pestle. Through constant resistance grandma gave up and fearfully watched me as I grew, expecting the worst to happen at any time. Ironically it never happened. Through the experience she had with me, she gave up breast ironing.
53% of girls in Cameroon have had their breasts brutally pressed or pounded with hot objects to prevent them from developing early. Practiced in all regions of Cameroon, Breast Ironing is done to prevent girls from attracting men at an early age. The extremely painful act has health and psychological consequences which contribute to the high rate of school dropout amongst girls in Cameroon. Just as breast ironing suppresses the development of budding breasts, so are women`s voices suppressed in Cameroon and around the globe. Something needs to be done!

My goal and vision is to improve the livelihood of women in my community by being the voice of the voiceless. I have created a Common Initiative Group to empower women in my area, but activities are still very timid. I would like to extend this initiative by adding a media center for women.I am convinced these goals would come to fruition through my interaction with other women who share in my vision on this site. I would like to obtain better training in Womens Empowerment and citizen Journalism,so being a Voices Of Our Future correspondent would be an answer to this quest. My dream is to see women highly represented in decision making positions in my country and globally. This can be possible if women are empowered through access to quality education and training. We need to be empowered in order to empower! Voices Of Our Future Correspondents, is a rare opportunity to join the global fight for womens emancipation. We are the backbone of society; we have for so long ruled in silence, It is time to make our voices heard.

"Real change in the world will only come through the power of women" Bishop Desmund Tutu

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