Chile president Sebastián Piñera sparks outrage by praising 'maturity' of rape victim aged 11 for keeping baby

Psychologist criticises Sebastián Piñera, saying girl compared her baby to 'a doll' in TV interview

Chile's president Sebastián Piñera has come under fire for praising an 11-year-old rape victim's decision to keep her baby.

President Piñera commended the child, known only as Belén, for her "wisdom and depth [after] she said that, despite the pain the man who raped her caused, she would love and support her baby."

Belén made the comments in an appearnce on national television. Mr Piñera's response has reignited old divisions in the South American nation, one of the most conservative in the region, where abortion remains illegal under all circumstances.

Belén, who is 14 weeks pregnant, was reportedly abused by her stepfather, who has subsequently been arrested. Chile's child protection agency also appealed for Belén's mother to be kept away from the child, after she told local media that the sexual relationship was consensual.

Piñera has asked for the health minister to personally supervise Belén's case to ensure her health and safety.

The Chilean president said he would back a medical intervention to deliver the baby prematurely after the pregancy reached 22 weeks, if it was deemed necessary to protect Belén's health.

"In our country the woman always occupies first place and we'll protect Belen's life with the latest medical science and the full care of the public health system," he said.

Child psychologists have criticised Piñera and said that Belén, who compared her baby to "a doll" in the TV interview, has no real concept of what her pregnancy will be like.

"What's worst for this girl: having the baby, dealing with the stigma her whole life and seeing her rapist's features in her child or interrupting the pregnancy and trying to overcome the ordeal?" leftist politician José Antonio Viera-Gallo asked on national radio station Cooperativa's website.

Chile is only one of only six countries in the world that bans abortion under all circumstances.

According to a national campaign to legalise abortion for medical reasons, 66 per cent of the population are in favour of amending the law to allow the process if the mother is in danger,in the case of rape, or if the baby's chances of survival are minimal.

Among the supporters for a change in the law is Michelle Bachelet, Chile's ex-president and until recently the director of UN Women, the organisation's gender equality body.

Bachelet, also in favour of gay marriage, is due to stand for president again in general elections on 17 November.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

Ashdown Group: Head of IT - Hertfordshire - £90,000

£70000 - £90000 per annum + bonus + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: H...

Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - SQL Server, T-SQL

£28000 - £32000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Data Analyst (SQL Server, T-SQL, data)

£28000 - £32000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst...

Day In a Page

Major medical journal Lancet under attack for 'extremist hate propaganda' over its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Lancet accused of 'anti-Israel hate propaganda' over coverage of Gaza conflict

Threat to free speech as publishers of renowned medical journal are accused of inciting hatred and violence
General Election 2015: Tories and Lib Dems throw their star names west to grab votes

All noisy on the Lib Dems' western front

The party has deployed its big guns in Cornwall to save its seats there. Simon Usborne heads to the heart of the battle
How Etsy became a crafty little earner: The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?

How Etsy became a crafty little earner

The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?
Guy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle King Arthur - one of our most versatile heroes

King Arthur is inspiring Guy Ritchie

Raluca Radulescu explains why his many permutations - from folk hero to chick-lit hunk - never cease to fascinate
Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations for the man or woman on the street?

Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations?

The Apple Watch has apparently sold millions even before its launch tomorrow
Don't fear the artichoke: it's a good cook's staple, with more choice than you'd think

Don't fear the artichoke

Artichokes are scary - they've got spikes and hairy bits, and British cooks tend to give them a wide berth. But they're an essential and delicious part of Italian cuisine
11 best men's socks

11 best men's socks

Make a statement with your accessories, starting from the bottom up
Paul Scholes column: Eden Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo

Paul Scholes column

Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo
Frank Warren: Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal

Frank Warren's Ringside

Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal
London Marathon 2015: Kenya's brothers in arms Wilson Kipsang and Dennis Kimetto ready to take on world

Kenya's brothers in arms take on world

Last year Wilson Kipsang had his marathon record taken off him by training partner and friend Dennis Kimetto. They talk about facing off in the London Marathon
Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad but it's not because I refuse to fly

Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad

Green leader prefers to stay clear of her 'painful' family memories but is more open about 'utterly unreasonable' personal attacks
Syria conflict: Khorasan return with a fresh influx of fighters awaiting the order to start 'shooting the birds'

Khorasan is back in Syria

America said these al-Qaeda militants were bombed out of the country last year - but Kim Sengupta hears a different story
General Election 2015: Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North for Ukip?

On the campaign trail with Ukip

Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North?
Four rival Robin Hood movies get Hollywood go-head - and Friar Tuck will become a superhero

Expect a rush on men's tights

Studios line up four Robin Hoods productions
Peter Kay's Car Share: BBC show is the comedian's first TV sitcom in a decade

In the driving seat: Peter Kay

Car Share is the comedian's first TV sitcom in a decade. The programme's co-creator Paul Coleman reveals the challenges of getting the show on the road