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She's 10 years old and pregnant. And she's being denied an abortion.

Trigger warning: This post deals with sexual assault and may be triggering to some readers.

She’s just 10 years old.

Earlier this year, she was sexually abused and raped by her stepfather.

Now she’s 21 weeks pregnant. And if that’s bad enough, this little girl – who should be playing with her friends in the street instead of facing the prospect of motherhood – is being denied an abortion.

The girl lives in Paraguay and despite her young age and pleas from the her mother, Catholic Paraguay’s strict anti-abortion laws mean that unless she develops complications that would put her life at risk, an abortion is illegal.

“Paraguay must step up to its responsibilities under international law” – Cabildo de asuncion (council in Paraguay)

The case has resulted in outrage from human rights and feminist groups, whom believe that due to her young age and the circumstances of conception that giving birth would result in both severe psychological trauma and further health risks.

“The physical and psychological impact of forcing this young girl to continue with an un-wanted pregnancy is tantamount to torture,” said Guadalupe Marengo, Americas Deputy Director in an Amnesty International report.

The World Health Organisation has identified a number of risks that pregnancy poses to girls whose bodies have not fully developed. Possible outcomes from adolescent pregnancy include: anaemia, HIV, Sexually transmitted infections, postpartum haemorrhage and mental disorders.

Adolescent pregnancy is also very dangerous to the baby. According to a report from the World Health Organisation infant deaths during the first month are 50%-100% more frequent if the mother is an adolescent versus older.

Related: Disturbing fact: In most countries, men have a legal “right to rape”.

Amnesty International also points out that Paraguay’s restrictive abortion laws are in violation of international law and risk the life of the child.

“Paraguay must step up to its responsibilities under international law…It is heart breaking to think of the horrifying ordeal this 10-year-old child has already suffered, to force her to continue with this unwanted pregnancy would be a further violation of her rights and will only prolong the horror,” Guadalupe Marengo continues.

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“The physical and psychological impact of forcing this young girl to continue with an un-wanted pregnancy is tantamount to torture.”

The girl’s stomach began to swell and she was taken to the hospital last week, where doctors revealed the girl was 21 weeks pregnant.

The girl’s mother reported in January 2014 that her daughter, one of three children was being sexually abused by her husband. The authorities did not take any action.

Her mother is now in custody on charges of breaching duty of care and is facing further charges of being an accomplice to sexual abuse. According to the Guardian, the stepfather is on the run.

Related: Immigration Department aware of sexual abuse allegations against children for 17 months but failed to act, says former Nauru workers.  

Once her condition was revealed the public health ministry transferred the girl to a Red Cross shelter and a special commission was set up to review the case.

According to the Guardian, Lida Sosa, director of healthcare programs at the ministry of public health and wellness, the panel’s purpose is to assess the condition of the 10-year-old.

“She has no complications at all. If any complication appear, we will proceed based on that,”the Guardian cites Sosa as saying.

International legal advocacy group The Centre for Reproductive Rights is trying to fight the Paraguayan Government’s actions in court. It has also launched an online petition.

Amnesty International has also launched an online petition.

If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home.

Do you think Paraguay needs to update their abortion laws? 

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