Latin America & Caribbean

Paraguay rejects UN criticism over case of 10-year-old pregnant girl

A 13-year-old girl holds her one-month old baby at a shelter for troubled children in Ciudad del Este, Paraguay, on Thursday, May 14, 2015. Image copyright AP
Image caption Provisional government figures indicated that last year 684 girls between the ages of 10 and 14 gave birth.

The head of the Catholic Church in Paraguay has rejected criticism of his country's handling of the case of a 10-year-old girl who is pregnant after being raped.

The United Nations called for her to be given an abortion, which is prohibited under Paraguayan law.

Archbishop Monsignor Edmundo Valenzuela said the UN had distorted the image of Paraguay.

The case has divided Paraguay on the issue of child abuse.

Archbishop Valenzuela said the UN was promoting a culture of death by suggesting that the girl, who is around five months pregnant, be offered a pregnancy termination.

In a statement on their website, Paraguay's Foreign Ministry said that the UN had not sought any information from them and was not fully informed.

The ministry said the girl had been taken into protection and was now in a hospital which was giving her medical and psychological support.

Under Paraguayan law, women cannot be given an abortion unless their life is in danger.

The health minister has said that the girl is in good health and the pregnancy is too close to term to be ended.

The girl's stepfather who has been accused by the government of raping her is currently in jail while the case is investigated. He had been on the run for weeks.

Her mother has also been arrested for negligence.

There have been several protests in Asuncion from students and women's groups calling for more government action against child abuse and for changes to sentencing for rape.

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