Recent tragedies in Peru have brought the issue of denying abortion to child rape victims into the global spotlight.
The United Nations, concerned about the violation of children’s rights, has called for a reevaluation of the country’s approach to such cases.
In a significant ruling issued by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in mid-June, the Peruvian state was found to have violated the rights of a 13-year-old indigenous girl named Camila (pseudonym).
Camila had been a victim of rape and incest and had become pregnant as a result of these crimes.
However, she was denied access to legal and safe abortion.
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The CRC’s resolution urged Peru to decriminalize abortion in child pregnancy cases and make necessary amendments to the regulations for therapeutic abortion. Additionally, it called for measures to prevent the retraumatization of victims.
Despite the UN’s ruling, another heart-wrenching case emerged shortly after Camila’s ordeal.
An 11-year-old girl named Mila (also a pseudonym), living in a poor area of the Peruvian Amazon, suffered abuse by her stepfather beginning at the age of six.
When she discovered she was 13 weeks pregnant, the stepfather was arrested but subsequently released due to a court decision. To protect Mila, authorities placed her in a shelter along with her three siblings, one of whom was a four-month-old baby.
Mila’s mother, who was also a victim of her partner’s abuse, sought a therapeutic abortion for her daughter but was denied the necessary support for her daughter.
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The Center for the Promotion and Defense of Sexual and Reproductive Rights (Promsex) has since stepped in to support Mila’s mother legally. Despite advocating for the termination of the pregnancy, the board of the hospital concluded that Mila should continue with the pregnancy, citing her alleged preference to keep the child and the fact that in Peru, rape is not included as a justification for therapeutic abortion.
Promsex’s subsequent efforts led to Peru’s Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations agreeing to reevaluate Mila’s case. International organizations, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) and UNFPA, expressed deep concern and called on Peru to grant Mila the right to access a safe abortion. These organizations emphasized the necessity of age-appropriate procedures and timely interventions, considering the grave health risks faced by young pregnant girls who have been victims of sexual violence.
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Tragically, Mila and Camila’s stories are not isolated incidents. Sexual violence against minors and the subsequent denial of abortion access continue to plague Peruvian society. Thousands of cases of sexual violence involving young girls are reported annually, with many leading to underage pregnancies.
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