According to the World Health Organization, "The proportion of births that take place during adolescence is about 2% in China, 18% in Latin America and the Caribbean and more than 50% in sub-Saharan Africa". Such was the case with an eleven year old Paraguayan girl who was raped, and subsequently impregnated by her abusive stepfather. The young girl's mother began reporting the sexual abuse in 2013, but the case was not looked into by authorities until April 2015, when the girl was already pregnant. Because of Paraguay's strict abortion laws, the eleven year old must go through with the pregnancy.
Adolescent pregnancies "account for 23% of the overall burden of disease due to pregnancy and childbirth" and "In Latin America, the risk of maternal death is four times higher among adolescents younger than 16 years than among women in their twenties". Not only do these pregnancies affect the young girls, but their communities as a whole, because the young mothers often drop out of school to care for their newborns; "Studies have shown that delaying adolescent births could significantly lower population growth rates, potentially generating broad economic and social benefits, in addition to improving the health of adolescents" (WHO). By helping to prevent adolescent pregnancies in countries like Paraguay, we are not simply helping young girls, but society as a whole.
Thankfully, the eleven year old Paraguayan girl has been reported to be "in good health and doing well", and because of her mother's support, she may still have a chance at receiving an education.
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To read more about the prevalence of child abuse in Latin America, click here.
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