From an international perspective, it is difficult to impose human rights on other people who claim cultural tradition as a basis for a ritual, because that opens up claims of racism and cultural insensitivity, which would also violate human rights. One difficulty is that there is no single international standard for human rights.
On December 10, 1948, the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which outlines basic human rights. Since that time, there have been nine total core international human rights treaties, some of them dealing specificially with children and with gender discrimination. At the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, United Nations member nations ratified a prohibition against any type of gender-based discrimination. In addition, the Convention on the Rights of the Child discusses a child's right to be raised by her parents in a family environment without undue governmental interference, but also discusses the child's right to be raised by a best interests standard. Clearly, in the case of something like breast ironing, reconciling the two is impossible. In addition, while these declarations of rights are admirable, they are only enforceable on UN member nations, and have only been enforced in the context of state action. Cameroon has criminalized the practice of breast ironing, so it would be difficult, if not impossible, to suggest that state actors are playing a role in perpetuating the process. That is not to say that some have not suggested that other sexual mutilations, most notably female genital mutilation, be treated and prosecuted as torture, but the international community has not responded positively to those calls.
There is also the problem of accountability. Establishing international human rights standards is a lofty ideal, but there has not been a practical means established to deal with offenses. Of course, there are international human rights tribunals established to try government officials for violations of human rights. Research shows that human rights trials do have a positive impact on the citizens of the country in question and can actually have an ancillary positive impact on neighboring countries. In addition, the United States has taken steps to try to enforce international law in a domestic context. 18 U.S.C.S. 2340A (a) provides that: "Whoever outside the United States commits or attempts to commit torture shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both, and if death results to any person from conduct prohibited by this subsection,