Shumirai Mungwira, third year BA (Hons) Interior Architecture and Design student receives a Highly Commended Award in the Architecture, Engineering & Interior Design category at the Creative Conscience Awards, for her project How Far Would You Go? The project aims to raise awareness of Breast Ironing.

Breast Ironing is a traditional practice that happens in Cameroon, Congo, and parts of Southern Africa. People, do not want to discuss it about and most people do not want to work on it. The practice has now made its way into the UK due to globalisation. According to a recent study conducted in Cameroon, it involves massaging or pressing the breasts of adolescent girls in order to suppress and reverse their development. The rationale is that preventing girls from developing breasts between 11 and 15 years old in the belief that a flat childlike chest will discourage unwanted male attention, rape and premarital pregnancy.

What do they use? Hot stones, cast-iron pans, bricks and pestle and mortars all of which are heated up and then used to ground down breasts.

Founded in the urgent need of awareness in breast ironing. The project titled “How Far Would You Go” creates an immersive narrative experience that highlights the lengths mothers will go to in order to save her child, and the difficult choice of being forced to pick between two evils.

The experience also narrates a victim’s journey of breast ironing and the issues that surround, cause, and allow it to happen, through a zonal telling of their testimony.

Working collaboratively with CAWIGIDO, the project provides an experiential awareness campaign that empathises with all the victims affected by this brutality.

The experience is split into seven different zones to effectively narrate the victims story and the complexity of the issues surrounding breast ironing.

Zone 1 – Sets the tone of the experience

Zone 2 – The beginning of the story

Zone 3- Seeing the trauma first hand

Zone 4- The pain they endure

Zone 5- The Rape Culture

Zone 6- Long lasting/ Transgenerational trauma

Zone 7- Awareness Campaign

The use of projections ensures that this ‘pain’ is projected onto the user, forcing them to address it. The amorphous structure that hangs from above not only connects all the zones but also obstructs your path compelling you to engage and address it whilst visually depicting the physical after effects of the breast ironing.

The combination of audio-visual and tactile stimulation brings the testimonial to life and throws the user into the victim’s story in the hope of making it unforgettable.

Shumirai says:

“I’m blessed and humbled to have won an award for an issue that I care so deeply about. It is great motivation for me to keep creating work that addresses women’s issues through the fields of interior architecture and collage.”

See more about Shumirai’s winning project here.