Latin America is the only region in the world in which the pregnancy rate for girls under 15 years of age is rising. Most of these pregnancies are the result of rape, frequently by family members or other men close to them. Compounding the tragedy of this endemic sexual violence, restrictive laws and policies make it difficult, if not impossible, for these girls to receive the necessary sexual and reproductive health services and information.
So today, along with our partners Planned Parenthood Global, Mujeres Transformando el Mundo Guatemala (MTM), Observatorio en Salud Sexual y Reproductiva Guatemala (OSAR), Surkuna Ecuador, Fundación Desafío, and Asociación de Mujeres Axayacatl, the Center filed four cases before the United Nations Human Rights Committee (the Committee) challenging the draconian abortion laws in Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Ecuador and demanding accountability for survivors of sexual violence. In denying adolescent girls and survivors of rape the ability to terminate their pregnancies, Ecuador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua are violating the reproductive rights of these girls and others like them. States must ensure that all citizens have the right to life, health, dignity, equality, and education—forcing girls to remain pregnant is in direct contradiction to this obligation.
Our clients Lucía, Fatima, Norma, and Susanna were all 14 years old or younger and living in rural and economically marginalized communities when they were raped by adult men in positions of power. None of them were able to obtain an abortion despite their not wanting to continue their pregnancies, and all of them had to drop out of school after giving birth. In each instance, their rapists have gone free while their lives have been irrevocably interrupted and derailed.
In bringing this litigation before the Committee, we are asking the Committee to recognize that these countries’ abortion laws are creating serious, irreparable harms, and that the standards under which women and girls are permitted abortion must be expanded. We also ask the Committee to recommend that these countries focus on the vital necessity of creating access to comprehensive reproductive health information for all populations, regardless of their age, race, gender, locality, and socioeconomic context. Ecuador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua must bring their laws in step with international human rights standards that acknowledge the critical importance of allowing girls to lead lives they define for themselves, and to not inflict further tragedy upon survivors of sexual violence by allowing their lives to be completely derailed by these crimes.
For more information, see Just Girls: Reproductive Rights Violations in Latin America and the Caribbean