The drama of child maternity and forced pregnancy in Latin America

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Here we tell you why pregnancy in children under 15 years can be considered one of the most complex public health problems

The drama of child maternity and forced pregnancy in Latin America

In recent years, more and more studies are focusing on the drama of Latin American girls who before the age of 14 are forced to carry out their pregnancy, even if they are the product of rape. Although this affects their life projects, the States have not responded efficiently with policies that guarantee their human rights.

Leer en español: El drama de la maternidad infantil y el embarazo forzado en Latinoamérica

A study published this year by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) endorsed that Latin America is the second region in the world, after sub-Saharan Africa, with the highest rate of teenage pregnancy, with 66.5 births per thousand girls and adolescents, compared to a world rate of 46.

In fact, according to the Latin American Federation of Societies of Obstetrics and Gynecology, pregnancy in girls or adolescents under 15 years of age can be considered one of the most complex and dramatic public health problems that receive no or minimal attention.

Under the terms of the Convention on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to compel a girl / adolescent who has not yet grown up to carry out a forced pregnancy or not desired is a violation of their human rights equivalent to torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

The report "Girls and adolescents under 15 years pregnant", developed the National Program for Integral Health of Adolescents of the Ministry with support from UNICEF Argentina, PAHO / WHO and UNFPA-Argentina indicates that the risk of maternal death in children under 15 years in low and middle income countries is twice as large as that of adult women.

In addition, other biomedical risks related to pregnancy and childbirth, such as infections, eclampsia, obstetric fistula, premature delivery and neonatal mortality, are greater in younger girls compared to older women.

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Sexual violence is the most serious traumatic event for a girl. According to the non-mothers' organization, the figures are extremely alarming:

  • "Every three hours, a girl of 14 or less becomes a mother in Argentina
  • In Mexico, of every 10 victims of rape, 4 are under 15 years old
  • In Colombia, every hour a girl between 10 and 14 years old is victim of sexual abuse
  • In Ecuador, of 10 complaints about sexual violence, 8 are of girls under 14 years of age
  • In Guatemala, every 46 minutes sexual violence is committed against a girl and every day there are 5 pregnancies of girls under the age of 14."
  • According to Unicef, more than one million girls and adolescents in the region have suffered sexual violence or other forced sexual acts.

What to do for now?

According to Marta Rondón, a consultant psychiatrist at the Peruvian National Maternal and Perinatal Institute, for the newspaper La Patria, states must:

  • Recognize the impact of rape and pregnancy on girls' mental health
  • Compel health operators, when in contact with a pregnant girl, to inform them of their right to therapeutic abortion to protect their mental health
  • Introduce prevention measures through comprehensive sexual education with a gender approach in educational centers from early childhood
  • Eradicate practices of sexualization of girls in educational spaces

LatinAmerican Post | Luisa Báez
Translated from "El drama de la maternidad infantil y el embarazo forzado en Latinoamérica"

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