An 11-year old girl who became pregnant after being raped by her stepfather and was denied an abortion by Paraguayan authorities has given birth, in the culmination of a case which put renewed focus on Latin America’s strict anti-abortion laws.And the kicker?
The girl, known by the legal pseudonym “Mainumby”, gave birth to a girl weighing 3.55kg (7.8lbs) at the Reina Sofia maternity hospital, a facility run by the Red Cross in Asunción, Paraguay’s capital. The baby was delivered by Caesarean section as a natural birth was judged to be too dangerous.
Neither the mother nor the child are reported to have experienced any health complications. “It was like any other Caesarean, but with the age difference,” Reina Sofia Director Mario Villalba told local radio. “She’s well and progressing like in any other surgery, but we’ll see afterwards how she gets on as a mother.”
Erika Guevara, Americas director at Amnesty International, said in a statement that Mainumby was “lucky to be alive”, adding that “only time will tell the true extent of the physical and psychological consequences of her tragic ordeal”.
“The fact that Mainumby did not die does not excuse the human rights violations she suffered at the hands of the Paraguayan authorities, who decided to gamble with her health, life and integrity despite overwhelming evidence that this pregnancy was extremely risky,” she said.
The case first came to light when the girl’s mother took her to hospital in late April because she had begun to experience swelling and stomach pain. At that point, she was only 10 years old and was already over 20 weeks into her term.
Her mother had reported as early as January 2014 that her partner was abusing her daughter, but received no response from the authorities. The girl, her two siblings, mother and stepfather shared a rented room in Luque, a town on the outskirts of Asunción.
After doctors indicated that the girl was pregnant, her mother requested an abortion but Paraguay, where 89% of adults are thought to be Catholic, prohibits the procedure unless the pregnancy threatens the life of the mother.
Public Health Ministry officials told the Guardian at the time that there was “no reason to interrupt the pregnancy”, and argued that it would be “even more dangerous for the girl to undergo a procedure”.
Both the girl’s mother and father were arrested, and the girl was taken into the Red Cross hospital.
Her mother was subsequently released pending further investigation, and has spent the past 10 days at her daughter’s bedside, according to Elizabeth Torales, Mainumby’s lawyer. Torales told press that she would work to place both the girl and her daughter in the custody of her mother.
At least 600 girls aged 14 or under become pregnant in Paraguay every year – whose population numbers little more than six million people.It's not just ISIL which abuses and exploits girls.
Villalba said that the Red Cross are currently treating two pregnant 12-year-old girls, as well as many others who had been the victims of sexual abuse by relatives.[my bolding]
“Unfortunately this case is not unusual for Paraguay, or the region,” Paula Avila-Guillen, advocacy adviser for Latin America and the Caribbean at the Center for Reproductive Rights, said. “It’s something that, very sadly, we see far too often, and that’s due to a lack of access to basic reproductive health services for girls and women, and a lack of understanding of the consequences for a girl of this very young age being forced to carry out a pregnancy.”