UN rights experts knock Paraguay over pregnant 10-year-old

Asuncion, May 12: Paraguay's government has failed to protect a 10-year-old rape victim who is being denied an abortion, United Nations human rights experts have said.

In a statement released in Geneva, the four experts said Paraguay has refused to provide treatment to save the life of the girl, who is five months pregnant, "including safe and therapeutic abortion in a timely manner." The case has set off a national debate in Paraguay where abortion is banned in all cases even rape except when the mother's life is in danger.

United Nations

"The Paraguayan authorities' decision results in grave violations of the rights to life, to health, and to the physical and mental integrity of the girl as well as her right to education, jeopardizing her economic and social opportunities," the experts said. The World Health Organization says such child pregnancies can be dangerous, potentially leading to complications and death.

The girl's stepfather, who is accused of raping her, was arrested over the weekend and placed in isolation to prevent other inmates from attacking him. The girl's mother is being held at a female prison for neglecting to take care of her daughter.

About 600 girls 14 or under become pregnant each year in this country of 6.8 million people. Studies by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control say thousands of children in the United States also give birth each year. Amnesty International has asked authorities to allow an abortion to protect the girl.

Health Minister Antonio Barrios has responded that she is in good health at a Red Cross hospital and that the pregnancy, at five months, is too advanced. But a medical panel was created yesterday to assess her mental and physical health, said Jose Orue, the public defender for children in the city of Luque, where the girl lived with her mother and stepfather near the Paraguayan capital.

Experts say the girl isn't ready mentally or physically to give birth. "When her baby arrives, the justice system will have to set a guardian and tutors for both of them," Orue said. Paraguayan forensic psychologist Franca La Carrubba said that though the girl is not prepared to be a mother, with medical care she might be able to give birth.

"The aftermath of rape could remain when she becomes a teenager or an adult. It's the most common disorder in these cases," she said. 


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