A BRITISH woman has revealed how her mum ‘ironed her breasts’ when she was 13 years old to make her look “ugly”.
‘Simone’ said her mum carried out the barbaric ritual for months when she found out the youngster was gay.
She told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme: “According to her, maybe I was attractive because of my breasts, so if she can iron them and I’m flat, then maybe I’ll be ugly and no-one will admire me.”
Simone was also made to wear a tight strap around her breasts in order to supress them further.
She noticed the long term effects of her trauma when she had a baby with a man as a result of an arranged marriage.
She said: “When it comes to breast feeding, it’s so strenuous, like there’s a knot inside.
“It seemed like maybe some of the nerves were destroyed.”
Simone described the breast ironing ritual as an “abuse” that “dehumanises” women.
The African practice, which involves battering the breasts as they develop with objects heated over hot coals, is now feared to be on the rise.
The futile ceremony is often performed by the girl’s own mother as they believe it will make their child – who can be as young as ten – less sexually attractive to avoid being harassed.
But instead, cops are calling on the community to recognise the practise for what it is – child abuse.
Community workers have today claimed at least 1,000 females have been targeted by the practise in the UK, with up to 20 in Croydon, South East London, in recent months alone.
British-Somali anti-FGM campaigner and psychotherapist Leyla Hussein told The Guardian she had spoken to five women subjected to breast-ironing.
She said: “They were all British women, all British citizens.”
Another hospital worker, Jennifer Miraj, said she had seen the practise grow during her career across Essex, Birmingham and London until 2015.
She said: “I was a nurse in the UK for over 10 years and watched the numbers grow.”
She said she had helped one ten-year-old girl who had an infection from the practise.
As part of the Guardian investigation, one mother described how she would iron her daughter’s breasts.
The mother said: “When I started massaging she said: ‘Mummy it’s hot!’.
“The mum was questioned by cops but released under caution.
The hidden abuse is happening here in Britain and we have to seek out the abusers and push for prosecution
MP Jake Berry
It is understood no one has been charged over breast ironing in the UK.
There are no formal studies that collate the rate of those who have undergone the practise.
Inspector Allen Davis, of the Metropolitan Police, said it was important to recognise the ritual “for what it is – child abuse.”
MP Jake Berry has previously spoken out about the issue, saying: “The hidden abuse is happening here in Britain and we have to seek out the abusers and push for prosecution.”
Breast ironing can be performed by massaging the breast with warm objects and has been practised across West and Central Africa.
MOST READ IN NEWS
According to the UN, up to 3.8 million girls worldwide have been affected – but has been described as one of five global under reported crimes relating to gender-based violence.
Girls aged between 11 and 15 are anecdotally the most common to be subjected to it.
It is extremely painful and can cause long term tissue damage.
We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online news team? Email us at email@example.com or call 0207 782 4368 . You can WhatsApp us on 07810 791 502. We pay for videos too. Click here to upload yours.