Latin America & Caribbean

Paraguay rebuked over pregnant child rape victim

People protest against child abuse, demanding stronger penalties for violators, in downtown Asuncion Paraguay (11 May 2015) Image copyright AP
Image caption The case has sparked outrage in Paraguay and abroad

Paraguay "failed to protect" a pregnant 10-year-old rape victim who has been denied an abortion, a group of UN human rights experts has said.

The girl allegedly became pregnant after being raped by her stepfather.

The Paraguayan government's decision has resulted in "grave violations" of the girl's rights, the experts said, and called for her to have access to "all necessary healthcare".

Paraguay bans abortion except in cases where the mother's life is at risk.

There are no exceptions for rape victims or very young girls.

The girl's 42-year-old stepfather was arrested on Saturday. He denies wrongdoing.

The country's health minister Antonio Barrios told the Paraguayan newspaper ABC (in Spanish) that abortion had been "completely ruled out" for the girl, and that he was hopeful for a "happy outcome" to her pregnancy.

The girl is approximately 23 weeks pregnant.

Image copyright AP
Image caption 'No to abuse' reads this sign held at a protest against child abuse in Asuncion

The girl's mother has reportedly asked for the 10-year-old's pregnancy to be terminated.

Amnesty International has also criticised Paraguay's stance, saying "the clock is ticking", and "the world is now watching Paraguay".

"All options, including an abortion, should be put on the table to prevent any further torment," said Amnesty's Guadalupe Marengo.

Pregnancy can be dangerous in young girls whose bodies are not fully grown.

The World Health Organisation says that the risk of maternal mortality is highest for adolescent girls under 15 years old and complications in pregnancy and that childbirth are the leading cause of death among adolescent girls in developing countries.