Paraguay: No child should be forced to give birth
Last month a young girl was taken to hospital by her mother complaining of a stomach ache. Doctors had previously suggested the cause was parasites or a tumour but on 21 April the 10 year old was detected as 21 weeks pregnant.
The girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had allegedly been repeatedly sexually abused by her stepfather. Her mother had reported the abuse a year previously but prosecutors did not investigate or provide protection measures as they did not believe the family to be at risk.
Risk to health and life
Child pregnancies pose serious health risks to young girls as their bodies are not properly developed. On top of the physical risks the pregnancy also puts the girl's psychological well-being, education and whole future at risk. Think of the 10 year old girls you know. Can you imagine any of them going through pregnancy, childbirth, motherhood?
The girl's mother has requested a voluntary termination of the pregnancy due to the risk to her daughter's life but the hospital has taken no action to honour these wishes. The girl has been sent to a centre for young mothers and her mother is currently in custody facing charges of failing in her duty of care and being an accomplice to sexual abuse.
Abortion law in Paraguay only allows for the termination of a pregnancy in instances where the mother’s life is at serious risk. It does not provide any other exceptions, even in cases of rape, incest or when the foetus is not expected to survive.
A group of UN human rights experts have issued a statement criticising the Paraguayan government for their failure towards the girl.
They have stated that the restrictive abortion laws and the lack of government intervention “results in grave violations of the rights to life, to health, and to physical and mental integrity of the girl as well as her right to education, jeopardising her economic and social opportunities”.
Response of authorities
After the pregnancy was confirmed Amnesty and local activists called on the Paraguayan government to act immediately to protect the rights of the girl. They called for an interdisciplinary panel of experts to be convened in order to assess the holistically assess the girl's situation and present all possible options to protect her rights.
It is reported that the panel has now been established by a judge and convened more than a week ago to consider the girl's situation. The outcome of this meeting is not known. It is vital that this panel acts quickly as the more time that passes, the more precarious the girl's situation becomes.
Join us in calling on the Paraguayan authorities to take immediate action to protect the rights of this vulnerable child.
Please sign the petition or write immediately in Spanish or your own language, urging the Paraguayan authorities to:
- Ensure the panel of experts recently authorised by the judge promptly assess the girl holistically and ensure all her human rights, particularly her right to life, health, and physical and psychological integrity are guaranteed
- Meet their international obligations and protect human rights, by ensuring that she has access to all possible information and medical services to manage this high-risk pregnancy as a result of rape, including the option of accessing safe abortion services;
- Conduct an independent and impartial investigation into the rape and bring the perpetrator to justice.
Please send appeals before 12 June 2015:
President of Paraguay
Sr. Horacio Cartes
Palacio de Gobierno
El Paraguayo Independiente entre O’leary y Ayolas. Asunción, Paraguay
Salutation: Dear President/ Estimado Señor Presidente
Dr. Javier Díaz Verón
Chile c/ Ygatimí
Fax: +595 21 415 6152
Salutation: Dear Attorney General/ Estimado Fiscal General
And copies to:
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