Breast ironing is a harmful ritual practiced on pubescent girls in particular parts of Africa. It involves pounding and massaging the young girls’ (what age?) breasts using heated objects in order to prevent them from developing. It is mostly carried out in Cameroon, where it is considered to be an age-old practice performed on young girls due to the perception that it is fortheir own benefit. The common belief is that such practice is efficient in preventing rape and sexual harassments, early pregnancies, and sexually transmitted diseases, as by removing signs of puberty, girls are perceived to be no longer sexually attractive to men. In recent years, the incidence of breast ironing has risen. Estimates from 2006 reveal that one in four Cameroonian girls hadundergone such practice. Additionally, 3.8 million young girls could be at risk of being breast-ironed.
The main perpetrators of breast ironing are the mothers of the young girls. Research studies indicated that “58% of the ironing was done by mothers of the victims, 10% by a nanny, 9% by a sister and 7% by a grandmother”. The repercussions range from health effects, such as the threat of breastcancer, burns, and infections, to psychological effects, such as depression, personality disorder, and sexual frustrations (is there any paper that supports this health effects, maybe OMS?).
Efforts to address this social phenomenon have been pursued by both local and foreign non-governmental organizations. On the governmental level, several amendments have been added to the constitution on theelimination of all forms of discrimination and degrading treatments against women in December 1986 and 1994 (do we have examples of these ammendments, it would be good to list them). Additionally, in 2003, the protocol of the African Charter on Human Rights was ratified to include the rights to life, physical integrity and the protection against harmful practices. Nevertheless, no law has beenofficially passed on the national level that clearly prohibits breast ironing and imposes a strict punishment on the perpetrators.
Breast ironing, as a social phenomenon, represents a coordination trap. Both players, the families of the young girls and government are trapped on an equilibrium, where the mothers continue to perform breast ironing and the government continues to not intervene. Suchoutcome is pareto dominated by another equilibrium, which is the interruption of such practice by the families and the intervention by the government. In this memo, we will demonstrate through developing a game theory model that breast ironing is an inefficient policy that is costly to both players. As a result, both players are better off moving to the pareto improvement equilibrium.
The ModelIn this two player model the girls´ Families (F) and the Cameroonian Government (G) must choose between two possible strategies of their own. The family chooses between breast ironing their female girls (denoted as BI) or not (NBI). The government can choose between intervening (denoted as I), action that consists in improving security in the streets, imposing legal enforcement andsanctions towards those who practice breast ironing (such sanctions can include fines and even jail), implementing inspection (through education and national media) as well as imposing inspection controls at schools to identify such practices in early stages, and most importantly raising public awareness of the devastating effects of such practices or a second strategy consisting in not intervening(denoted as NI).
* N = 2 players (Family (F), Government (G))
* Posible strategies: SF = BI, NBI, SG = I, NI
* There are four possible strategy profiles:
(NBI, I); (NBI, NI); (BI, I); (BI, I)
The Family´s decision is in function of the following variables:
p = The family´s perception of the probability of not getting raped or early pregnancy given that they...