The clock is ticking and Paraguayan authorities are still not ensuring that all options are available for a raped 10-year-old girl, including safe abortion services, Amnesty International and a group of national and international human rights organizations said today.
“The world is now watching Paraguay. We are calling on authorities there to show humanity and respect the dignity and wishes of this young girl and her mother. To do anything else would be a clear breach of international human rights law and a violation of this young girl’s rights,” said Guadalupe Marengo, Deputy Director for the Americas at Amnesty International, after more than 150,000 of its members and supporters worldwide signed a petition to support the girl getting access to all medical options.
A few days ago a judicial order set up an interdisciplinary panel to assess the young girl.
“It is important for the panel to immediately carry out a holistic assessment of the girl and ensure that her human rights are fully respected and guaranteed. The panel must take into account all possible physical and mental dangers of this high-risk pregnancy in the short, medium and long term. This is a very young girl who has already experienced the deep trauma of rape and sexual abuse for a long time. All options, including an abortion, should be put on the table to prevent any further torment,” said Guadalupe Marengo.
It has been more than two weeks since the 10-year-old girl was found to be 21 weeks pregnant, as a result of being raped by her step-father. Her mother has asked doctors to terminate the pregnancy but her plea has not been answered. The girl has instead been sent to a centre for young mothers.
The World Health Organization has stated that adolescent pregnancy is dangerous and that in Latin America, the risk of maternal death is four times higher among adolescents younger than 16 years than among women in their twenties.
“It is hard to understand the brutal cruelty of forcing a young girl, who has already survived the horrors of rape, to carry a pregnancy to term. The physical and mental repercussions of continuing with this high-risk pregnancy could be devastating and are akin to torture,” said Guadalupe Marengo.
In Paraguay, abortion is permitted when the life of the woman or girl is at serious risk.
The girl had been to different medical centres since January complaining of a stomach ache, but the pregnancy went undetected.
In addition, last year her mother made a complaint about the sexual abuse of her daughter, but prosecutors failed to investigate or provide protection measures as they considered her not to be at risk. An investigation into the abuse by her stepfather was only opened when her pregnancy came to light. Her stepfather has fled and is evading justice.
The girl’s mother is now in prison, facing charges of failing in her duty of care and of being complicit in the abuse. The organizations believe the mother is in an extremely vulnerable state and fear that her detention is arbitrary.
“In a pluralistic society such as Paraguay, many people recognize the morality of abortion and embrace public policies that uphold the human right of women to decide matters related to their reproductive health. I, and Catholics around the globe, call upon Paraguayan authorities to protect the health of the girls in the country,” said Jon O’Brien, President of Catholics for Choice.