14-year-old rape victim dies after being forced to give birth in Paraguay

'The body of a minor is not prepared for pregnancy' 

Lydia Smith
Friday 23 March 2018 13:08
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Pro-abortion protesters march in Asuncion, Paraguay, where abortion is illegal
Pro-abortion protesters march in Asuncion, Paraguay, where abortion is illegal

A 14-year-old rape victim died during childbirth in Paraguay, where abortion is illegal unless the pregnancy poses a threat to the woman’s life.

The teenager, who has not been identified, suffered an embolism and three cardiac arrests during an emergency caesarian section.

Doctors at the National Hospital of Itaugua had attempted to deliver the baby vaginally but the girl suffered respiratory complications, according to local media.

The baby boy is alive and remains in the hospital in Itaugua, a small city around 20 miles north of the country's capital, Asuncion.

Dr Hernan Martinez, the hospital director, told reporters the girl had been hospitalised 20 days before she went into labour because her young age meant the pregnancy was high risk.

“The body of a minor is not prepared for a pregnancy,” he said.

Ricardo Gonzalez Borgne, the head of the the National Secretariat for Children and Adolescents, said a 37-year-old man was arrested in connection with the rape.

Paraguay’s restrictive abortion laws have been in the spotlight since 2015, when authorities blocked a 10-year-old girl from having an abortion after she was raped by her stepfather.

The girl, given the pseudonym Mainumby to conceal her identity, survived giving birth at the age of 11.

“The fact that ‘Mainumby’ did not die does not excuse the human rights violations she suffered at the hands of the Paraguayan authorities, who decided to gamble with her health, life and integrity despite overwhelming evidence that this pregnancy was extremely risky and despite the fact that she was a rape victim and a child,” Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International, said at the time.

“It is terrifying that her story will remain all too common unless Paraguay does more to protect victims of sexual violence, decriminalise abortion and guarantee the availability of modern contraceptives and access to information about sexual and reproductive rights,” she said.

In Latin America, the risk of maternal death is four times higher among adolescents younger than 16 than among women in their twenties, according to the World Health Organisation.

Around 65 percent of cases of obstetric fistula, a childbirth injury and one of the leading causes of maternal death, occur in the pregnancies of adolescents.

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