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Despite International Pressure, Paraguay Denies Abortion for 10-Year-Old Girl

Amnesty International has called Paraguay's decision "equivalent to torture," yet authorities insist the child, who was raped by her stepfather, is fit to give birth.
June 15, 2015, 7:25pm
Imagen por Jorge Saenz/AP

Paraguay's government has rejected the recommendation of the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights regarding a 10-year-old girl raped by her stepfather, once again denying the child the right to end her pregnancy.

The CIDH, as the commission is known, suggested Paraguay protect the girl's life by allowing her to interrupt the pregnancy, due to risks that she could face throughout gestation and delivery. But in a June 11 statement by the Paraguayan foreign ministry, the country flat-out rejected the commission's advice.

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The government said it has done everything to ensure the wellbeing of the girl and her fetus. Paraguayan law establishes that all life, since the moment of conception, "must be protected," the statement said.

Paraguayan law only allows abortions in cases where the mother's life is at risk, and according to authorities, the girl — who is more than six months pregnant — faces no threat due to her condition.

But the CIDH said that the girl's age makes her four times more likely to die in labor than an adult.

Related: 10-Year-Old Girl Raped by Stepfather is Refused an Abortion in Paraguay

Amnesty International called the government's decision "equivalent to torture," and the European Parliament has urged Paraguay to make abortion accessible for women and girls in cases of rape or incest, as well as those in which the female's life is at risk.

According to Paraguay's health ministry, at least 680 girls between the ages of 10 and 14 became pregnant in 2014, and human rights groups say that rape is often to blame in those cases.

Authorities detained the girl's stepfather on May 9 for charges of rape, but he has pled innocence. The girl's mother is also jailed, accused of neglecting her daughter's safety and of taking no action to protect her despite knowing of the abuse. The girl's mother has denied the allegations.

The 10-year-old girl's case has galvanized protests against sexual violence and abuse against women in Paraguay. Demonstrations were held in the Paraguay capital of Asuncion and in other cities on May 30 calling for an end to abuse against children. A recent survey, however, showed that around 87 percent of the Paraguayan population is against the legalization of abortion.

Gender-related violence has come to the fore across South America after large demonstrations earlier this month in Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay, calling for stricter laws against femicides, or the violent killings of women.

Related: 'Not One Woman Less': Massive Demonstration Highlights Killings of Women in Argentina