A 13-year-old rape victim from the state of Sonora in northern Mexico has been denied an abortion after a judge ruled that the “sex” was consensual, despite medical evidence that she was subjected to sexual violence.
Family members took her to the police station that same day to report the assault and, as a result of her complaint and accompanying medical evidence, the public prosecutor charged the man involved. The medical report showed physical evidence which corroborated her claim. However, she was not offered emergency contraception at the time.
The judge accused the alleged rapist of “illegal sex with a minor” and downgraded the charge by ruling that the man had gained the girl’s consent by deception. The state health service has also refused to allow the girl an abortion even though under the state’s abortion law abortion is legal when the pregnancy is the result of rape.
Officials at the communications department for the state health agency said officials were meeting about the case and would comment later. Human rights advocates say the decision violates federal health regulations, introduced earlier this year, which guarantee rape victims unrestricted access to safe abortion services – regardless of where they live and whether the crime was reported or not. The new regulation should supersede state restrictions, but it has left health providers uncertain about who to obey, according to Alex Ali, a lawyer for the Grupo de Información en Reproducción Elegida (GIRE), who are representing the girl. They and other women’s rights organisations are demanding that hospital authorities should reverse their decision, arguing that the judge’s interpretation of the crime does not change the fact that the girl was sexually assaulted and became pregnant as a result.
“She has the right as the victim of sexual aggression to end the pregnancy. The classification of the crime doesn’t matter.’ said Regina Tamés, president of GIRE told El País. “As such, it is irrelevant what the judge considers to be a crime or not. There is no legal impediment preventing the authorities from supporting her.”
The girl had been at home on May 16 as it was a school holiday and was attacked by a work colleague of her father’s. According to a Mexican government study of sexual violence published in March, four out of ten rape victims are under 15 years of age, with 60% of attacks taking place in the victim’s own home.
All of Mexico’s 31 states allow for abortion in cases of rape. The country has the highest reported incidence of sexual abuse, violence and murder against children under 14 among the OECD countries. One in four girls is sexually assaulted before the age of 18, according to the latest survey by the Executive Commission of Attention to Victims (CEAV). In 2008, after Mexico City became the only place in the country to allow first trimester abortion on request, the state of Sonora was one of 16 states to immediately tighten their restrictions on abortion. The girl, who is almost 12 weeks pregnant, will have to travel to Mexico City for an abortion.
PHOTO: Getty, protestors in Mexico City