International Humanist and Ethical Union
UN Human Rights Council, 32nd Session (13th June – 1st July 2016)
Universal Periodic Review – Paraguay
The IHEU is deeply concerned about the rights of women and girls in Paraguay, particularly in the area of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).
Abortion is prohibited in the Criminal Code (even in cases of sexual violence and incest or when the foetus is not viable) and women and girls who undergo an abortion, as well as anyone carrying out the procedure, face imprisonment. Sentences range from two to eight years.
This, despite the high rate of child and adolescent sexual abuse, pregnancy, and risk of maternal death to young girls. 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.
We are all familiar with the case of the ten-year-old who became pregnant last year after having been raped by her stepfather and who was refused an abortion by the authorities, backed by the Church. It serves as a deeply disturbing example of the results of Paraguay’s cruel laws and culture surrounding reproductive rights and child abuse.
The lack of proper education on SRHR only compounds this. Students are provided with unscientific or inaccurate information and the school system is strongly influenced by religious ideas and ideology, which are too often dictated by those seeking control women.
Persisting stereotypes regarding the role of women in Paraguay, discriminatory traditional attitudes, and the negative influence of some religious beliefs and cultural patterns exacerbate the situation for women and girls seeking the realisation of the rights and equality they deserve.
Accordingly, echoing what has been recommended by a number of UN experts and other civil society actors, we urge Paraguay to:
'UPR statement on Paraguay', Humanists International