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

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 from a hospital in the Amazon region of Loreto that refused to perform the abortion.

The case caused a furore and after the United Nations urged the Peruvian state to intervene, Mila was brought to the capital Lima and state doctors authorised the abortion. She will remain in state care after being discharged.

Mila’s experience highlights the state’s failings to protect young sexual abuse victims, Susana Chavez, director of Promsex told Reuters, adding that there are likely many more rapes of minors than are reported. She said Mila lives in an area of deep poverty, where the rate of pregnancies in girls is among the highest and sexual abuse is widely tolerated. The police did nothing in this instance, for example, until Mila became pregnant although she had been subjected to sexual abuse from the age of seven. Official data show 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 the age of 17.

Abortion is only legal in Peru if the woman’s life is at risk, and even then it is not guaranteed.

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 criticised and President Dina Boluarte has demanded his “immediate capture”. His whereabouts at the time of publication of the Reuters report were unknown.

SOURCE: Reuters video and report, by Carlos Valdez, Anthony Marina, Isabel Woodford, Rosalba O’Brien, 17 August 2023