An international human rights charity is alleging that a 10-year-old girl in the Paraguayan city of Asuncion has been denied an abortion after she was raped by her stepfather.
Amnesty International says that the girl, who has not been named, was refused the potentially life-saving treatment at a local hospital due to a decision by the country’s Public Health Ministry.
“The physical and psychological impact of forcing this young girl to continue with an unwanted pregnancy is tantamount to torture,” said Guadalupe Marengo, Americas Deputy Director at Amnesty International.
Abortion is legal in Paraguay only if the life of the mother or unborn child is immediately under threat. Although authorities appear to have concluded that the girl is not in such danger, international statistics indicate that girls under the age of 15 are five times more likely to suffer complications during pregnancy than older women.
Dr. Ricardo Oviedo, based at the local hospital where the girl was taken, described the case as a high-risk pregnancy, because she was not yet fully grown and did not have the characteristics of an adult woman.
In Marengo’s opinion, the state has an obligation to take action to avert such dangers.
“Paraguay must step up to its responsibilities under international law,” he said. "The world is looking to the country’s authorities, asking them to stand by the girl and to provide access to potentially life-saving treatment for this child and the many other girls and women like her."
According to the United Nations, an estimated 26,000 illegal abortions are performed annually in Paraguay.
The girl has reportedly been taken in to the care of her maternal aunts following the denial of the abortion request.
Meanwhile, the girl’s mother is to be charged for breaching her duty of care and acting as an accomplice to sexual abuse. The Attorney General’s Office has requested that she be imprisoned.
The stepfather, who faces sexual abuse charges, has been on the run since the pregnancy of the 10-year-old was discovered earlier in April.