The case of the 11-year-old girl who became pregnant after being raped in Santa Catarina is no exception in Brazil. Preliminary data from the Ministry of Health collected by the g1 point out that in 2021 17,316 girls under the age of 14 became mothers in the country. The number has decreased in recent years.
According to current legislation, sexual relations with children under the age of 14 are considered as rape of a vulnerable person. If the violence results in pregnancy, the child has the right to a legal abortion. As the number includes girls who became pregnant after reaching the age of 14, it is not possible to say that all are victims of rape.
The specialist in children’s and adolescents’ rights and coordinator of the Human Rights Commission of the Legislative Chamber of the Legislative Chamber of the Federal District, Perla Ribeiro, says that pregnancy notifications are the most visible part of the problem of the rape of vulnerable people in Brazil, which still suffers from under-reporting.
“We have, in cases of sexual violence against children and adolescents, a very large under-reporting. When that child becomes pregnant, that is when you confront her with the State, because she has to go through the process to go to the hospital and then she finds out about the problem of sexual abuse and violence,” he says.
A specialist in sexual violence and legal abortion, psychologist Daniela Pedroso says that maintaining a pregnancy in child victims of sexual violence leads to a series of psychological problems for the child, in addition to physical harm, social and financial.
She says this situation could be even worse if this victim is denied the right to legally terminate the pregnancy, as happened with the daughter of Santa Catarina, who was kept by the Court in a shelter in the State to prevent him from having authorized treatment. Abortion.
A rape victim, the SC girl found out she was 22 weeks pregnant when she was taken to a hospital in Florianópolis, where she had the termination procedure denied by judge Joana Ribeiro Zimmer.
After the case landed in court, the decision and excerpts from a hearing on the case were revealed in a report by Portal Catarinas and The Intercept. The material was released on Monday (20). In the video, Zimmer tries to convince the young girl to maintain the pregnancy and even asks the child if she “could bear to stay a little longer.”
On Tuesday morning (21), the court ordered the girl to return to live with her mother. The family’s defense attorney did not provide details on what the abortion decision will be. The judge in charge of the case was transferred to another district after receiving a promotion. According to her, the invitation was made before the repercussions of the affair.
Pedroso, who has been assisting girls and women victims of sexual violence for 25 years, says these girls often have no idea what is happening to them or what is happening to them.
“The case of this girl has an impact because it reminds me of all the similar situations of 10 and 11 year old girls that I have seen. It evokes the memory of these girls who were children, who sometimes had no understanding of their own bodies, who did not know what was going on,” she says.
“I always remember one case of a girl, how she found out. She was 10 years old, she was in the bath and milk was coming out of her breast and she called her mother, and she managed to tell this mother that she was pregnant from the rape of her stepfather. And how was the service? [psicológico] his? It was to sit on the floor with her, who was a child.
The North and Northeast have proportionally more cases
Most cases of girls under 14 who had children were recorded in the North East (6,855). The North appears next, with almost 4,000 records, followed by the South-East (3,800), the Center-West (1,400) and the South (1,300).
When looking at the total number of births in the regions, on the other hand, the North East (833,000) has fewer live birth registrations than the South East (1.2 million). The North (322,000) reported fewer births than the South (396,000).
In other words, proportionally, the North and Northeast, regions with higher poverty rates, have more cases of pregnant girls than the other regions.
O g1 asked the Ministry of Health about the complete data for 2021, but did not receive the information until the publication of this text.
Coordinator for the Defense of Women’s Rights at the Public Defender’s Office of the State of Rio de Janeiro, Flávia Nascimento recalls that the legal provision relating to the termination of pregnancy in girls under 14 is included in Brazilian legislation since 1940.
The defender believes that the law, since it does not define a precise period during which the procedure can take place, allows the termination of pregnancy at any time, but points out that this is not a consensus in the legal world.
Nascimento also says he has noticed greater doubt among doctors about this, especially after recent Health Ministry posts. Earlier this month, the ministry released a document in which it asserts that “there is no ‘legal’ abortion” and asserts that cases in which there is an “exclusion of illegality” must be proven after a “police investigation”.
“We have seen an increase in these cases, this doubt of health professionals, especially since the Ministry of Health began to want to impose a limitation on a right which is broad, which is not limited. The MS, which should guide, provides an orientation contrary to the law and ends up raising a lot of doubts among health professionals, ”he comments.
Historical live birth data indicates a decrease in child pregnancies in the country since 2014, when 28,245 girls had children. Two years later, in 2016, there were 24,139 girls. In 2019, before the pandemic, there were 19,300 births from mothers up to age 14.
Despite the decline, the two regions with the highest proportional rates of pregnant girls – North and Northeast – saw an increase in cases in 2021, according to preliminary data from the Ministry of Health. The North fell from 3,740 in 2020 to 3,975 in 2021, while the North East fell from 6,822 to 6,855.
Despite the reduction, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) pointed out, in an article published at the end of 2021, that the fertility rate of Brazilian adolescents is higher than the world average: there are 53 pregnant adolescents per thousand, while in the world there are 41. In the text, the UN body warned of the importance of information and comprehensive sexual education as tools for preventing early pregnancies, and of the need to discuss violence and abuse against adolescent girls and girls.
The g1 released a series of reports explaining what legal abortion is, after the Department of Health released a pamphlet in which it stated that “there is no legal abortion” and advocated that authorized cases in Brazil are subject to “police investigation”.
In the articles there are details of the termination procedure allowed by Brazilian law. It must be offered free of charge by the Unified Health System (SUS) and is authorized in cases where the pregnancy is the result of rape, when the life of the pregnant woman is in danger or when there is a diagnosis of fetal anencephaly.
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