11-year-old rape victim gives birth in Paraguay

GlobalPost
Pro-abortion activists stage a protest in front of the presidential palace in Santiago, Chile, on Nov. 11, 2014.
Pro-abortion activists stage a protest in front of the presidential palace in Santiago, Chile, on Nov. 11, 2014. 
MARTIN BERNETTI

An 11-year-old girl who became pregnant after being allegedly raped by her step-father has given birth in Paraguay, according to news reports.

The girl, who was just 10 when she became pregnant, was denied an abortion by the Paraguayan government, sparking an international outcry and efforts to pressure the government to let the girl terminate what was deemed a high-risk pregnancy. 

The government refused, and the 11-year-old girl delivered a healthy baby girl on Thursday morning in Asunción, Paraguay.

Asunción Red Cross Director Mario Villalba told CNN that the baby and her mother, whose legal pseudonym is "Mainumby," are in "good health condition."

The baby weighed 7 pounds and 13 ounces. She was delivered via C-section, since a vaginal birth was deemed too dangerous.

Erika Guevara, Amnesty's Americas director, said she is happy to hear the girl is alive, but that there is no excuse for "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."

The girl's stepfather was arrested in May, when news of the girl's pregnancy came to light. Forty-two-year-old Gilberto Benitez Zárate was charged with rape and child abuse. He has denied the charges and demanded a DNA test to back up his claim.

The girl's mother, 32, was also arrested in May. She was charged with child neglect and complicity, and then released on bond in June. She has reportedly been by her daughter's bedside these last few days, according to the Guardian.

Paraguay Health Minister Antonio Barrios said back in May that, even in this case, an abortion would be a violation of law in Paraguay, a deeply Roman Catholic country. "We're totally against interrupting the pregnancy," he said. 

Paraguayans have been engaged in an emotional debate about their country’s prohibition of abortion under all circumstances, except when the mother’s life is in danger.

In Latin America, such draconian laws are the norm, not the exception. Chile, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Suriname, Haiti and the Dominican Republic have all ruled abortion illegal, with no exceptions. Women who terminate their pregnancies can — and do — receive multi-year jail sentences.