10-year-old Paraguay girl pregnant after being raped by stepfather

10-year-old Paraguay girl pregnant after being raped by stepfather
A woman holds a fake fetus during a rally against the draft law of the Chilean government which seeks to legalize abortion.

She is 10 and pregnant after being raped by her stepfather.

Despite that, she cannot have an abortion because the law in Paraguay, where the rape occurred, does not allow it unless the mother's life is in danger.

Rights group Amnesty International and the girl's family are asking the government to allow it as her age puts her at risk. She is 22 weeks pregnant.

But the Paraguayan Ministry of Health said there is no indication she is at risk, reported CNN.

Ms Lida Sosa, director of health-care programmes at the ministry, told the Guardian: "Right now, there is no reason to interrupt the pregnancy.

In fact, given the stage of the pregnancy, it's even more dangerous for the girl to undergo a procedure (to abort) without a well-considered medical, obstetrical evaluation."

Amnesty International said that the physical and psychological impact of forcing the young girl to continue is "tantamount to torture" .

An Amnesty official, Mr Guadalupe Marengo, told CNN: "The Paraguayan authorities cannot sit idly by while this young rape survivor is forced to endure more agony and torment."

The girl and two other children lived with her mother and stepfather in a rented room.

As early as January last year, the girl's mother, who works in a school canteen, had reported that the girl was being sexually abused by her stepfather, reported the Guardian. But the authorities turned a blind eye.

When the girl's stomach started to swell and ache last month, the mother took her to hospital, fearing a tumour, the British newspaper reported.

It was then that the woman found out that her daughter was pregnant.

Her mother petitioned the hospital to allow the child to undergo an abortion, but was turned down.

Instead, the mother was arrested and jailed by police last month.

She is facing charges of breaching duty of care and being an accomplice of sexual abuse, reported the Daily Mail.

The girl's stepfather is on the run.

Center for Reproductive Rights, an international legal advocacy organisation, has been working with lawyers in Paraguay to fight the authorities.

Harmful

Ms Paula Avila-Guillen, the Latin America and Caribbean advocacy adviser for the group, told the Daily Beast: "They think they're allowing the right to life and are protecting basic life.

But these restrictions are very harmful for women and girls - they not only affect their life, they affect the potential of the life they want to build."

According to health statistics, 680 Paraguayan girls aged between 10 and 14 gave birth in 2014, reported the Daily Mail.

So it is no surprise that another case there has also made the news: A man who got his 12-year-old daughter pregnant.

The girl's mother, suspecting her daughter was pregnant, took her to a doctor.

The father was arrested and is facing 12 years' jail, reported the Daily Beast.

The online news portal said the status of the girl is not known.

A 2013 United Nations report said that 2 million girls who are younger than 14 give birth in developing countries every year and many of them suffer resulting long-term or fatal health problems, reported CNN.

About 70,000 adolescents die each year from complications from pregnancy or childbirth.

Abortions on the decline in Singapore

Abortions in Singapore hit a three-decade low last year.

There were 8,515, which is about eight per cent fewer than in 2013, Ministry of Health (MOH) figures released to The Straits Times show.

This is about a third of the peak of 23,512 abortions in 1985.

The number of abortions has been on the decline since then, with an average of 11,200 each year in the past decade.

But foreigners have been bucking the trend.

Almost a quarter of the women who had abortions last year were from overseas, up from about 15 per cent in 2004.

Pre-abortion counselling was made mandatory in 1987, except for certain groups of women, such as foreigners.

But this changed with effect from April 17 this year, and counselling has been extended to all women seeking abortions.

Gynaecologists and counsellors believe that the overall drop in abortion numbers is due not to pre-abortion counselling, but to various reasons such as families being supportive of parenthood and adoption, or more people using contraception.

Ms Haslinda Md So'od, a case worker with Babes Pregnancy Crisis Support, told The Straits Times: "Younger people are getting more educated and more aware of contraceptive devices available in the market."

Dr Christopher Ng of GynaeMD Women's and Rejuvenation Clinic in Camden Medical Centre said: "Women are more well-read and better informed about contraception, possibly through magazines or sex education in schools."

As to why more foreigners were having abortions, experts said the reasons were usually due to pregnancy affecting their job prospects in Singapore.

Under manpower laws, female work-permit holders such as maids cannot continue working here if they get pregnant or deliver a child here, unless they are married to a Singaporean or permanent resident.


This article was first published on May 6, 2015.
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