The United Nations system in Bolivia (UN Bolivia) yesterday warned that exposing a girl to forced pregnancy was “torture” and urged government agencies to step up their efforts to protect the rights of minors victims of violence, sexual and forced pregnancy intensify. This is in the context of the raped and pregnant girl in Yapacani, who triggered protests and debates in the country due to the intervention of the Catholic Church, which decided to take in the minors and to promote the continuity of their pregnancy.
Meanwhile, the ombudswoman Nadia Cruz announced yesterday that she would take legal action at national and international level to protect “the life, dignity and integrity” of the raped and pregnant girl. Cruz said the lawsuits filed include a lawsuit for liberty and a request for precautionary measures against Yapacaní’s child and youth defenders, Percy Boland Hospital, and the Archbishop.
She will also ask the Inter-American Human Rights Commission (IACHR) to take precautionary measures against the Bolivian state, taking into account that the 11-year-old girl is already a grave fact in a pregnancy situation, according to what she recognizes the same inter-American system at.
The incident was reported in the Yapacaní parish, Santa Cruz department, where the 11-year-old girl, who is 22 years old, was assaulted while her parents were away on business, according to a preliminary report.
The girl has been discharged from Percy Boland’s maternity hospital and the family confirmed that she will continue the pregnancy process with the support of the Catholic Church, which announced that it will advise relatives and welcome the minor. Several institutions spoke for and against.
In this regard, the UN issued a statement “urgently” calling for efforts to be stepped up to protect the rights of girls who are victims of sexual violence and forced pregnancies, which are extreme manifestations of gender-based violence.
It also said that “a girl’s forced pregnancy is classified as torture.”
The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (Cedaw) points out in its general recommendation 35 that violations of the right to health and the sexual and reproductive rights of women and girls, such as Violence which, depending on the circumstances, can constitute torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment ”. Likewise, the Committee Against Torture has repeatedly stated that the prohibition on abortion may constitute torture or ill-treatment because it exposes women to preventable maternal mortality, the agency reported.
Girls, not mothers
The Minister of the Presidency, María Nela Prada, condemned the action in this case. “Girls are girls, they are not mothers, so we condemn this action and believe that we should condemn rapists from all levels of society,” he said.
The ombudsman announced that it would forward the case to the Inter-American Human Rights System, as it was a “serious violation of human rights”.
The Catholic Church regards abortion as a crime amid the controversy. In Bolivia, however, the plurinational constitutional judgment 0206/2014 provides that women and girls can access legal abortion as an option in the event of rape, incest, rape and when their life or health is at risk.
Last night, women’s collectives stood in front of the offices of the Bolivian Bishops’ Conference on Potosí Street in the city of La Paz to protest against the intervention of the Church against the observance of a constitutional judgment.
Pregnancy numbers are worrying
In Bolivia, there were an average of six pregnancies per day in children under the age of 15 in 2020, Erbol reported.
United Nations Population Fund (Unfpa) project commissioner Rolando Encinas stated that according to official figures from the National Health Information System, there were 39,999 pregnancies in adolescents in 2020, although he made it clear that this number only includes those who underwent prenatal monitoring for which there would be sub-registration. Of that number, 2,170 pregnancies were reported in children under the age of 15, an average of six per day. There are now 104 pregnancies per day in adolescents aged 15 to 19 years.