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Through a Woman's Lens Honorable Mention

Banned Beauty

Heba Khamis | Cameroon

1.. Kamini tontines, 12 years old. is hiding her breasts after having them ironed by her mother. Early Marriage, teenage single mother and rape are common words in Cameroon. As a way of protection when the girl's breasts start to develop, the mother or the grandmother heat a stone and message the breasts to melt the fats and make them disappear so men will not be enticed by them.

Mothers in Cameroon iron their daughters breasts using heated cooking objects, other tools also used include leaves, bananas, coconut, shells, grinding stones, ladles, spatulas and hammers heated over coals. Even magic is exercised.

Mothers hope that flattening the breasts delays maturity or makes it invisible. Trying to protect them from rape and early marriage. as girls are beginning to hit puberty as young as seven. where men think that girls whose breasts have begun to grow are ready to have sex.

The prevalence was 24 percent in 2008. Ironing causes scarring that affects breastfeeding and may result in cancer. From outside it seems a violent practice, physically and psychological mutilation against young girls who just started to grow up, have dreams and hopes. Nevertheless, when you look deeper, you can notice that mothers do it for a good reason: to protect their daughters. It's a way of showing love and caring.

Heba Khamis is an Egyptian storyteller whose work concentrates on social issues that are often ignored.

In 2017 Heba participated at the Joop Swart masterclass from World Press Photo, she got awarded with PHmuseum women photographers grant and the Ian Parry scholaraward.

After graduating with a bachelor in painting, Heba made a career shift and worked as a staff photojournalist for Eltahrir Egyptian daily newspaper and as a freelancer with international news agencies such as AP, EPA and Xinhuanet covering the two revolutions in Egypt, and their aftermath.

After volunteering in Uganda, Heba's style developed from hard news to documentary photography, focused on the social and humanitarian issues in Africa. More recently Heba has been working on breast ironing issues in Cameroon and refugees gay prostitution in Germany .

In 2016 Heba received her Diploma in Photojournalism from the Danish School of Media and Journalism. In 2017 she got another diploma in photojournalism from Hochschule Hannover University of Applied Sciences and Arts. She is working on mixing her artistic skills and photojournalistic experience to develop her own style of documentation.


  • GIZ 
  • UN 

Email: hebakhamis88@gmail.com

Mob: (NL) +31644510708, (EG) +20 1004624600.

Address: 10 Medhat Seif Elyazal, Cleopatra, Alexandria,Egypt.

Skype: heba.mkhamis



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