Peru allows abortion of 11-year-old rape victim after UN pressure

Credit: REUTERS/Guadalupe Pardo

By Carlos Valdez and Anthony Marina Reuters

An 11-year-old rape victim was allowed an abortion in Peru over the weekend after being initially refused the procedure, in a case that rights groups say highlights the lack of support for minors who suffer sexual abuse.

The girl, publicly identified only as “Mila,” was raped for years by her stepfather, according to a police report. Earlier this month, Mila – approaching 18 weeks pregnant – was turned away at a hospital in the Amazon region of Loreto, which refused to perform the abortion.

The case caused a furor and after the United Nations urged the Peruvian state to intervene, Mila was brought to the capital Lima and state doctors authorized the abortion.

She is now recovering well, said Susana Chavez, director of the feminist non-governmental organization PROMSEX, and will remain in state care after being discharged.

But Mila’s experience highlights the state’s failings to protect young sexual abuse victims, Chavez told Reuters, adding that there are likely many more rapes of minors than reported.

“We estimate that for every pregnant girl who comes to hospital, there are at least 10 … victims of sexual abuse,” Chavez said.

Official data shows live births in girls between the ages of 10 and 14 in Peru rose 14% last year to 1,625. In the first half of this year, 14,500 sexual assaults were recorded, 70% of which involved minors under 17.

Abortion is only legal in Peru if the mother’s life is endangered, and Chavez said even then access is being blocked by an “ultra-conservative” backlash.

Authorities are now searching for Mila’s stepfather, who was arrested in July but later released on grounds of insufficient evidence. The judge’s decision to release him was widely criticized and President Dina Boluarte has demanded his “immediate capture.” His whereabouts are currently unknown.

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