An African practice of “ironing” a girl’s chest with a hot stone to delay breast formation is spreading in the UK, with anecdotal evidence of dozens of recent cases, a Guardian investigation has established.
Community workers in London, Yorkshire, Essex and the West Midlands have told the Guardian of cases in which pre-teen girls from the diaspora of several African countries are subjected to the painful, abusive and ultimately futile practice.
One woman living in the suburbs of an English city told the Guardian how she went about ironing her daughter’s chest at the first sign of puberty.
“I took the stone, I warmed it, and then I started massaging [my daughter’s chest],” she said. “And the stone was a little bit hot. When I started massaging, she said: ‘Mummy, it’s hot!’” The child developed bruising and the mother was eventually questioned by police, before being released with a caution.
That should teach her a lesson.