Breast Ironing in the UK and Domestic Law

Mukaddes Gorar

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As a result of gender-based violence (GBV), women and girls throughout the world have become the subject of violence and harmful practices which drastically interfere with their physical and sexual autonomy. Examples of these practices are female genital mutilation (FGM), forced marriage and breast ironing. Some of this violence is categorised as ‘so called’ honour-based violence (HBV) and also domestic violence (DV). Whether it is classified as HBV or DV, the result remains the same: a gendered violence with victims mostly, and in some cases exclusively, women and girls. In honour based patriarchal communities, HBV is inflicted upon women and girls to control and suppress their sexuality for the sake of familial or communal honour. However, because of internalisation of male supremacy, when inflicting HBV on their daughters, parents think they are doing it for the sake of protecting their offspring.[1] As a result, women and girls become victims of harmful practices. Some of these harmful practices are irreversible. As well as reducing the quality of victims’ lives, they pose a danger to their physical and psychological health.[2] Although female genital mutilation (FGM) is a well-known, harmful, gendered practice, there is also an emerging concern in society with breast ironing. The purpose of breast ironing is again to control both the body and sexuality of a young girl. Since female sexual activities outside marriage are perceived as tarnishing a family's name, honour based patriarchal values play a central role in this particular practice.[3]Breast ironing is currently a largely unknown problem with the public at large as well as with front line public service professionals, including police forces in the UK. It has taken a long time for these abuses, suffered by women and girls at the hands of their own family and community, to be recognised and to be acted upon nationally and internationally
Original languageEnglish
Article number34
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of International Women's Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jun 2022


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