De­nied abor­tion, 11-year-old Paraguay rape vic­tim gives birth


An 11- year- old Paraguayan girl who was raped by her mother’s boyfriend gave birth Thurs­day, rekin­dling the up­roar over author­i­ties’ re­fusal to let her have an abor­tion.

The child, who was 10 when she was raped, gave birth by C- sec­tion to a girl that weighed 3.5 ki­los ( eight pounds), said Dolores Castel­lanos, the doc­tor that mon­i­tored the preg­nancy.

The girl has named the baby Mi­la­gros, which is Span­ish for mir­a­cles.

The preg­nancy came to light when the girl went to the doc­tor with stom­ach pains in April. Doc­tors ini­tially be­lieved she had par­a­sites, but dis­cov­ered on ex­am­in­ing her that she was five months preg­nant.

The author­i­ties’ han­dling of the case sparked out­rage in this pre­dom­i­nantly Catholic coun­try, where abor­tion is illegal ex­cept when the mother’s life is deemed to be at risk.

Of­fi­cials ruled the preg­nancy could pro­ceed.

The girl, who turned 11 in May, was 37 weeks preg­nant when she gave birth.

She stands just 1.39 me­ters ( four feet six inches) tall and weighed just 34 ki­los be­fore her preg­nancy.

She will re­main un­der ob­ser­va­tion for 72 hours, said Castel­lanos, head of child and ado­les­cent medicine at the Asun­cion hos­pi­tal where the baby was born.

Mario Vil­lalba, di­rec­tor of the Red Cross hos­pi­tal, said the de­liv­ery “was like any other Ce­sarean, with­out com­pli­ca­tions, the dif­fer­ence be­ing the age.”

Asked if the child will be able to nurse the baby, Vil­lalba said, “we’ll see how she does as a mother.”

The baby’s fa­ther, Gilberto Martinez Zarate, age 42, was taken into cus­tody in May and is await­ing trial on rape charges. He could get be­tween 12 and 15 years if con­victed.

The girl’s mother was also ar­rested for ne­glect but al­lowed to visit her daugh­ter dur­ing the preg­nancy.

The lead pros­e­cu­tor on the case, Mon­al­isa Munoz, said the girl was sys­tem­at­i­cally abused by her mother’s boyfriend.

“She was al­ways at his mercy be­cause the mother worked. The rapist even went to the girl’s par­ent-teacher con­fer­ences,” she told AFP.

‘ Ex­tremely risky’

The case re­ver­ber­ated far out­side Paraguay, with U.N. ex­perts crit­i­ciz­ing the Paraguayan gov­ern­ment for re­fus­ing to con­sider an abor­tion.

Amnesty In­ter­na­tional called on Paraguay’s gov­ern­ment to re­peal its strict anti- abor­tion law, say­ing the girl was lucky to be alive.

Erika Gue­vara, the rights group’s di­rec­tor for the Amer­i­cas, said the fact that the child sur­vived “does not ex­cuse the hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions she suf­fered at the hands of the Paraguayan author­i­ties.”

Of­fi­cials in the South Amer­i­can coun­try “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,” she said.

Castel­lanos, the at­tend­ing physi­cian, in­sisted the girl’s life was never at risk.

UNICEF has ac­cused Paraguay of fail­ing to pro­tect girls from sex­ual preda­tors.

Ev­ery day, two girls aged be­tween 10 and 14 give birth here, it says.

At the hos­pi­tal where the 11- year- old girl gave birth Thurs­day, three other girls, all aged 12, are due to give birth in the com­ing weeks.


In this May 14 file photo, a 13-year-old girl holds her 1-month-old baby at a shel­ter for trou­bled chil­dren in Ci­u­dad del Este, Paraguay.

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