International Humanist and Ethical Union
UN Human Rights Council, 30th Session (14th September – 2nd October 2015)
General Debate, Item 8
The IHEU would like to draw the Council’s attention to our written statement [A/HRC/30/NGO/129] outlining some serious concerns and recommendations we have regarding the failure by some GRULAC States to protect the SRHRs of women and girls in the region.
In this intervention, I will concentrate on the lack of SRHR protection for the girl child specifically, and how it converges with the phenomenon of child abuse to create a betrayal of her human rights and dignity. I refer the Council to paragraph 21 of the Vienna Declaration which states that “National and international mechanisms and programmes should be strengthened for the defence and protection of children, in particular, the girl-child.”
A number of GRULAC states have seen a rise in pregnancies among girls aged 10-14 over the past 15 years – almost always the result of abuse. It has been reported that in Bolivia, 34% of girls have suffered sexual abuse before age 18 and in El Salvador in 2013, nearly two-thirds of cases of reported rape involved girls under 15 or classified as “mentally incapacitated.” In Paraguay, it is reported that two births a day occur among girls aged 10 to 14, and many are the result of sexual abuse by relatives and stepfathers. One such case was that of a ten-year-old who became pregnant after having been raped by her stepfather and was refused an abortion last year. The girl gave birth this August, aged 11, by caesarean section. [Likewise, in 2013, a 14-year-old Chilean girl gave birth to her father’s son. Her family wanted her to abort but the doctor refused.]
These appalling cases illustrate the horrific consequences of child abuse and teen pregnancy intersecting cruelly with the rigid restrictions on abortion in some GRULAC states.
It is not just girls’ health that is threatened but their freedom too; across the region, girls have been imprisoned for the crime of abortion. Last year in El Salvador alone, six girls were charged.
Today is the Global Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion. It’s time to protect the girl-child, to protect her life, health and dignity. We urge the Council to consider this issue with some urgency.
'SRHR in Latin America', Humanists International