Breast Ironing (AKA Breast Flattening)

Key Facts

  • Breast Ironing is the process whereby young pubescent girls' breasts are ironed, massaged and/or pounded down through the use of hard or heated objects for non-medical reasons.
  • The purpose of the procedure is to make the breasts to disappear or delay the development of the breasts entirely.
  • It is believed that by carrying out this act, young girls will be protected from harassment, rape, abduction and early forced marriage and therefore be kept in education.
  • The practice is commonly performed by family members, 58% of the time by the mother (source: The United Nations)
  • Similarly to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), breast ironing is classified as physical abuse.
  • The United Nations (UN) states that Breast Ironing affects 3.8 million women around the world and has been identified as one of the five under-reported crimes relating to gender-based violence.

What the Law says

There is no specific law within the UK around Breast Ironing. However it is a form of physical abuse and if professionals are concerned a child may be at risk of or suffering significant harm they must refer to their Local Safeguarding Children Partnership Procedures.

For further information on Breast Ironing, please click here to access the National FGM Centre's page.