Amnesty International claim treatment of 10-year-old girl raped by her stepfather but denied abortion is 'tantamount to torture'

Abortion - unless the mother's life is in danger - remains illegal in the South American nation

A 10-year-old girl raped by her stepfather has been denied an abortion under the restrictive laws of her native Paraguay, an international charity has claimed.

The unnamed child became pregnant after being raped by her stepfather but the 21-week-old pregnancy was discovered only when she arrived at hospital complaining of stomach pains.

Amnesty International claim that denying the girl an abortion is “tantamount to torture” and forcing her to carry the child to full-term is a “further violation of her rights”. Abortion in Paraguay is illegal except when the mother’s life is in danger, with doctors (or the women themselves) performing the operation facing stiff penalties, ranging from 15 to 30 month in prison.

The United Nations estimates that approximately 26,000 illegal abortions are performed every year in Paraguay. International statistics estimate mothers under 15 years old are five times more likely to die from complications than adult women.

Guadalupe Marengo, Americas Deputy Director at Amnesty International, said: “The physical and psychological impact of forcing this young girl to continue with an unwanted pregnancy is tantamount to torture.”

Mr Marengo continued that authorities “cannot sit idly by” while the girl is “forced to endure more agony and torment.”

“Paraguay must step up to its responsibilities under international law. The world is looking to the country’s authorities, asking them to stand by the girl and to provide access to potentially life-saving treatment for this child and the many other girls and women like her,” he added.

The girl’s mother, now in custody facing charges of breaching duty of care and being an accomplice of sexual abuse, had petitioned the hospital for her daughter’s abortion.

Despite the severity of the case, latest reports suggest that her request was denied and the child moved to the Red Cross Hospital on the orders of Paraguay’s Public Health Ministry.

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