An 11-year-old Paraguayan girl who became the focus of a battle between rights groups and the country’s conservative government after she became pregnant as a result of being raped by her mother’s partner gave birth on Thursday at the Queen Sofía Red Cross hospital in Asunción.
The delivery of the 3.5-kilo baby girl has reignited a heated debate about abortion law reform in Paraguay.
Terminations are only allowed if the mother’s life is in danger, but even then, only one has ever been carried out, in 2009, after health chiefs bowed to international pressure.
In Paraguay, abortion is allowed if the mother’s life is in danger, but has only been practiced once, in 2009
Health officials had insisted that the life of the 11-year-old, who has been given the fictitious name of Mainumby by the authorities, was not in danger.
The girl gave birth by cesarean section: “The cesarean was performed as with any other woman – the only difference was her age,” hospital director Mario Villalba told a local radio station, adding that both mother and baby were in good health and would likely be discharged from hospital in three days.
Mainumby’s mother was given guardianship of her daughter and the newborn. Judicial investigators are still trying to determine if the mother held any responsibility for her partner’s abuse. She has been granted a conditional release from jail as the inquiry continues.
Various organizations, including Amnesty International, had demanded that the government of President Horacio Cartes grant permission for Mainumby to have an abortion.
The young girl was raped by her stepfather who is being held at a prison in Tacumbú
A spokeswoman for the feminist group Cladem said in a telephone interview with EL PAÍS that the government had pledged to find a home and job for the 11-year-old’s mother, but had so far not complied.
“We are demanding that the government take responsibility for the three of them,” she said as her organization held a protest against Cartes. She added that the mother, daughter and newborn were stranded at the hospital because they had no place to go.
Cladem has accused the Cartes government of “cruelty” for forcing the 11-year-old to have her baby and ignoring the psychological problems she is facing as a rape victim.
The young girl was raped by her mother’s partner in Luque, a small town outside the capital, Asunción. The 42-year-old, who has claimed his innocence, is being held at a prison in Tacumbú.
The case broke in April after the then 10-year-old Mainumby went to the hospital complaining of stomach pains. The doctors told her she was pregnant and the girl explained that she had been raped.
The mother was jailed for a short time but was released after Cladem and other NGOs pressured the government. They said the mother had reported her ex-partner to authorities but that nothing was done.
Mainumby’s case also underscores Paraguay’s problems in dealing with sexual abuse cases involving minors, which have grown in recent years – as they have throughout Latin America – and the authorities’ continuing refusal to change abortion laws.
Last year, over 600 Paraguayan girls between the ages of 10 and 14 gave birth, according to statistics from the Clínica Hospital in Asunción. In most instances, the children had been victims of rape.
English version by Martin Delfín