Paraguayan protest against raping 10-year-old girl, banning abortion


This video says about itself:

Pregnant 10-year-old ‘denied abortion after being raped by stepfather’

2 May 2015

Amnesty International is calling on Paraguay’s government to allow a 10-year-old girl to get an abortion for the sake of her health. Report by Sarah Kerr.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Paraguay march poised to draw record crowd after 10-year-old denied abortion

As authorities insist child rape victim must give birth, hundreds are expected to protest sexual abuse in Asunción: ‘Her case is emblematic’

Jonathan Watts, Latin America correspondent and Sarah Boseley, Health editor

Thursday 28 May 2015 12.00 BST

Fury over Paraguayan authorities’ refusal to allow an abortion for a 10-year-old rape victim is expected to bring unprecedented numbers of pro-choice protesters to the streets of the country’s capital, Asunción, this week.

The case has prompted outcry around the world and prompted a national debate about the prevalence of child abuse and underage pregnancies.

But that debate has focused more on adult violence than child health. And while many have called for tougher penalties for adults who abuse minors, few expect any change in the Catholic country’s strict abortion laws.

Despite a plea from the girl’s mother, Paraguayan authorities have ruled that the 10-year-old who is now 25 weeks into the pregnancy must give birth, unless she develops complications that put her life in danger. A medical panel is monitoring her condition.

Pedro Pablo Guanes, a gynaecologist based in Asunción, said the authorities are likely to release a tentative date for the birth soon. One option is for a cesarian section to be carried out in the next few weeks to avoid the biggest risk, which is that the girl’s body may not yet be developed enough to accommodate a fetus in its final stage.

On average, two girls under the age of 16 give birth each day in this country of 6.8 million, according to local media reports which have reflected fears that the rape of minors has become “normalised”.

Congressmen have proposed raising the maximum sentence for the rape of a minor to 30 years in prison, up from 10 years. But attempts to raise awareness over the issue of sexual abuse have been modest: the government has urged people to wear green ribbons on the National Day Against Child and Adolescent Sexual Abuse on 31 May.

A day earlier, hundreds of demonstrators are expected to attend a march from the Plaza Uruguaya to El Panteón in the capital with banners declaring “My body, my territory, not for use or abuse”. Similar small rallies have been staged every year, but organisers expected double the usual number of marchers this year because of the commotion caused by the 10-year-old’s pregnancy.

“Her case is emblematic and motivates many people,” said Rosana Ríos of the Grupo Luna Nueva, which is one of the participating organisations in the protest. “We are marching against the inaction of the state in the face of this problem.”

Petitions have been sent to the Ministry of Children demanding the government stop treating this problem as “normal” and asking for the establishment of a medical board to evaluate the options for the girl’s well-being. The global online campaigning organisation Avaaz presented a petition to the Paraguayan congress with half a million signatures calling for the decriminalization of abortion for women under 15 years of age.

This coincided with a public hearing in Asunción on whether to reform the nation’s abortion laws. Feminist and pro-choice groups argued that decriminalisation was long overdue because more than 50,000 illegal abortions are carried out each year for those who can afford them, while the poor have no choice but to bear the health and economic risks associated with an unwanted pregnancy.

The situation in Paraguay reflects that across Latin America, where abortion is illegal or severely restricted in most countries. Nicaragua, Chile and El Salvador ban abortion completely, even if the pregnancy threatens the life of both the mother and the foetus.

The World Health Organization has said botched abortions are a leading cause of maternal death worldwide, and in 2008 accounted for 12% of all maternal deaths in Latin America and the Caribbean.

But the strong influence of the Catholic church in the region makes reform unlikely. Earlier this week, Peru’s congress rejected a bill to decriminalise abortion in the case of rape. …

“This shows how the situation here has become normal, at least to those who work with these cases,” said Cecilia Caniza, a psychiatrist based in Asunción. “Everyone needs to understand that this is not normal. Just because there are lots of cases does not make the situation OK.”

International research suggests the potential hazards for very young mothers are considerable: even though a 10-year-old may be able to conceive, her pelvis is not fully developed, raising the likelihood of complications during birth.

“One big study in Bangladesh showed a five-fold increase in risk of death among 10- to 14-year-olds compared to women aged 20 to 24,” said Dr Mickey Chopra, Unicef’s global chief of health.

“Even if the mother doesn’t die, the physical complications of pregnancy can be quite severe, running from prolapses to being physically disabled,” said Chopra.

Young girls who become pregnant also experience higher rates of pre-eclampsia – dangerously high blood pressure – which can be life-threatening for mother and baby.

And even when rape is not an issue, adolescents can have difficulty adapting to motherhood when they are still growing up themselves, said Daghni Rajasingam, a consultant obstetrician and spokesperson for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in the UK.

According to Unicef, the teen and adolescent birth rate in Paraguay is 63 per 1000 girls aged 15 to 19. In the UK, which has one of the highest rates in Europe, the rate is 25 per 1000 and in the US, which has the highest rates in the OECD, it is 39.

Religion is not the only factor. Some Catholic countries do not have high teenage pregnancy rates – in Italy it is seven per 1000 and in Ireland it is 16. “Access to abortion is obviously important, but it is also about social norms,” Chopra said.

Additional reporting by Shanna Hanbury

10-year-old raped girl forced into dangerous childbirth by Paraguayan government


This video from the USA says about itself:

Raped 10 Year Old Won’t Be Allowed An Abortion

2 May 2015

“A 10-year-old girl in Paraguay, who is five months pregnant after being raped by her stepfather, had been denied an abortion that could save her life.

The child was admitted to hospital with stomach pains and doctors later discovered she was 22-weeks pregnant after being raped by her stepfather, Amnesty International said.

The charity said despite the high risk of the pregnancy and her mother’s request, she has not been allowed to have an abortion.

Her mother’s request to abort the child was not granted by authorities in the South American country as abortion is illegal. The girl’s mother is now in custody facing charges of breaching duty of care and being an accomplice of sexual abuse.”

Read more here.

In Paraguay, there is a far Right government, based on a coup d’état against a democratically elected president.

Here is one of the horrible results of that; from daily The Guardian in Britain:

To make a 10-year-old give birth isn’t just horrifying – it’s life threatening

Jessica Valenti

A child raped by her stepfather in Paraguay is being denied an abortion, despite the high risks involved in carrying the pregnancy to term

Tuesday 5 May 2015 10.00 BST

Would anyone in their right mind think it reasonable that a 10-year-old carry a pregnancy to term? This is not a thought experiment but the horrible story of a real child in Paraguay: raped by her stepfather and now denied an abortion.

According to Amnesty International – which is leading the charge to obtain an abortion for the child – the young girl’s condition became public when she went to the hospital complaining of stomach pain and was found to be 21 weeks pregnant.

“The physical and psychological impact of forcing this young girl to continue with an unwanted pregnancy is tantamount to torture”, Guadalupe Marengo, Americas Deputy Director at Amnesty International said in a statement. (In fact, the United Nations has declared lack of access to abortion at any age a form of torture.)

Paraguay has very strict laws on abortion – the procedure is only permitted when a person’s life is at risk. There are no exceptions for rape or incest.

Antonio Barrios, the Health Minister of Paraguay, said: “there is no indication that the health of the [girl] is at risk … therefore we are not, from any point of view, in favor of the termination of the pregnancy”.

There are so many levels of horror here it’s hard to know where to begin but this, perhaps, is the most baffling: in what universe is a 10-year-old delivering a child not a risk to her life?

Childbirth is a risky enterprise for a healthy grown woman – a woman of reproductive age in Paraguay for example, has a one in 310 chance of dying from from complications from labor. For a child, the risks are exponentially worse.

Children’s bodies are not meant to give birth. Dr Dalia Brahmi, the Director of Clinical Affairs at Ipas told me: “It is cruel to force a 10-year-old girl to carry her pregnancy to term”.

Dr Brahmi, who once worked at the World Health Organization in the Department of Reproductive Health and Research, told me: “very young adolescents [under 15 years old] have a high risk of eclampsia, infection, preterm birth and intrauterine growth restriction” compared to adult women.

The dangers are clear – and it takes a whole lot of magical thinking or straight up denial to think otherwise. Pregnancy for a child risks not only her emotional and mental health, but her physical health and possibly even her life.

Paraguay’s decision to remain the course has nothing to do with the actual risk to the child involved, but is all about their adherence to an antiquated, tortuous law that would rather see a child’s life at risk than admit their anti-abortion policies are too strict.

If those who would see this young girl give birth are truly pro-life, whose life are they concerned about? Because it’s certainly not the ten-year-old at the center of this story who is being forced to carry her rapist’s baby to term.

This anonymous young girl – this child – has already been violated by a member of her family. Must she be violated by her country as well?

Cartoonist Garry Trudeau attacked for criticizing Islamophobic cartoons


This video from the USA says about itself:

23 December 2010

It’s been 40 years since Garry Trudeau first drew the popular comic strip “Doonesbury.” The Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist speaks with Jeffrey Brown about a new book chronicling his decades of work

By Patrick Martin in the USA:

Doonesbury cartoonist attacked for criticizing Charlie Hebdo

27 April 2015

Garry Trudeau, the creator of the Doonesbury comic strip, has come under attack from right-wing editorialists and media pundits for publicly criticizing anti-Muslim cartoons appearing in the French magazine Charlie Hebdo, calling them a form of hate speech.

Trudeau’s brief remarks were delivered at Long Island University April 10, where he received the George Polk Career Award for his more than four decades of work as a cartoonist, in the course of which he has frequently had to battle censorship of his outspoken liberal views. Only three years ago, 50 newspapers refused to carry his strip during a week when he bitingly attacked Republican politicians who oppose abortion rights even in the case of rape or incest.

The central point made by Trudeau is that Charlie Hebdo was engaged, not in satirizing the powerful, but in vilifying the most oppressed section of the French population, Muslim immigrants, who face the highest levels of unemployment, poverty, police harassment and imprisonment.

Trudeau was of course horrified by the bloody massacre in January at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, when an attack by two Islamist gunmen left 12 people dead, include most of the magazine’s senior cartoonists. He contributed to an online tribute to the murdered cartoonists. His refusal to go along with the retrospective glorification of the content of the cartoons, despite the enormous wave of media propaganda that has followed, is an act of intellectual and moral courage.

For that very reason, his statement has been vilified as an attack on the victims of terrorism, in a series of columns by right-wing pundits, including David Frum of The Atlantic, Cathy Young of Reason magazine, and Ross Douthat of the New York Times.

Frum made the most sweeping attack, citing the killings at Charlie Hebdo, the related attack on a kosher bakery in Paris, and a subsequent attack in Copenhagen, Denmark, and declaring, “For this long record of death and destruction—and for many other deaths as well—Garry Trudeau blamed the people who drew and published the offending cartoons.”

The right-wing pundit claims that Trudeau applied “privilege theory” to the Charlie Hebdo massacre, justifying it because the victims were from the white elite, while the gunmen were from the immigrant Muslim underclass. “To fix the blame for the killing on the murdered journalists, rather than the gunmen, Trudeau invoked the underdog status of the latter,” Frum writes.

He goes on to claim that news organizations in the United States that reported on the anti-Islam cartoons in Charlie Hebdo did not reprint them because they were afraid of terrorist attack, drawing the conclusion, “Violence does work.”

Trudeau offered a different explanation for the non-publication of the anti-Muslim cartoons in an interview Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” where he addressed the right-wing attack on his Long Island University remarks. US editors did not reprint the cartoons because they were demeaning and racist, he maintained. If similar cartoons had targeted African-Americans, they would be universally denounced and repudiated.

Douthat and Young both cite Frum’s column approvingly in their own shorter diatribes, echoing his claim that Trudeau had based his remarks on an extreme version of identity politics. These criticisms are baseless slanders, as can be easily demonstrated by looking at what Trudeau actually said. The cartoonist cited the example of the great satirists of the French Enlightenment.

“Traditionally, satire has comforted the afflicted while afflicting the comfortable. Satire punches up, against authority of all kinds, the little guy against the powerful. Great French satirists such as Molière and Daumier always punched up, holding up the self-satisfied and hypocritical to ridicule. Ridiculing the non-privileged is almost never funny—it’s just mean.

“By punching downward, by attacking a powerless, disenfranchised minority with crude, vulgar drawings closer to graffiti than cartoons, Charlie wandered into the realm of hate speech…”

The same issue was raised in a perspective published on the World Socialist Web Site immediately after the attack on Charlie Hebdo. WSWS Chairman David North rejected the claim by British historian Simon Schama that the French magazine was in the tradition of the great satirists of the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries, writing:

Schama places Charlie Hebdo in a tradition to which it does not belong. All the great satirists to whom Schama refers were representatives of a democratic Enlightenment who directed their scorn against the powerful and corrupt defenders of aristocratic privilege. In its relentlessly degrading portrayals of Muslims, Charlie Hebdo has mocked the poor and the powerless.

North explained that the orgy of praise for Charlie Hebdo, summed up in the slogan “I am Charlie,” raised at demonstrations in Paris, was an effort to provide an ideological justification for US and French imperialism:

The killing of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists and editors is being proclaimed an assault on the principles of free speech that are, supposedly, held so dear in Europe and the United States. The attack on Charlie Hebdo is, thus, presented as another outrage by Muslims who cannot tolerate Western “freedoms.” From this the conclusion must be drawn that the “war on terror”—i.e., the imperialist onslaught on the Middle East, Central Asia and North and Central Africa—is an unavoidable necessity.

These efforts are doubly hypocritical, given the onslaught on democratic rights, including freedom of the press, in all the Western countries, especially the United States. The Obama administration has targeted more journalists for surveillance and more whistleblowers for prosecution than any other in US history, singling out those who have played major roles in exposing the crimes of the US government, like Bradley (Chelsea) Manning, Edward Snowden, and Julian Assange.

Trudeau is not an avowed opponent of imperialism, but rather a liberal who apparently supports the Obama administration, albeit with some disappointment. That does not detract from the principled character of his public repudiation of the right-wing efforts to whip up anti-Muslim prejudice.

The author also recommends:

“Free speech” hypocrisy in the aftermath of the attack on Charlie Hebdo
[9 January 2015]

Six American writers and novelists have withdrawn from the annual gala of the PEN American Center in protest against the organization’s decision to award its Freedom of Expression Courage Award to the French satirical and anti-Muslim newspaper Charlie Hebdo. The newspaper’s offices were the object of a terrorist attack on January 7 in which 12 people were killed and 11 more injured: here.

Spanish women’s movement victory over government


Spanish demonstrators for women's reproductive rights

From The Local in Spain:

Spain scraps plans for tough new abortion law

Published: 23 Sep 2014 14:02 GMT+02:00

Updated: Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Tuesday announced his government would shelve plans for a tough new law on abortions, saying there was not enough support for the legislation.

The draft reform, approved in January, would have allowed abortions only in cases of rape which had been reported to the police or when there was a medically-certified threat to the mother’s physical or psychological health.

Current legislation will now be revamped to ensure that 16 and 17-year-olds have to obtain parental permission before having an abortion, meaning that the most controversial aspects of the planned reforms will fall by the wayside.

The discarded draft bill caused divisions within Spain’s ruling conservative Popular Party and angered thousands of pro-choicers who took to the streets to voice their discontent.

The government’s official announcement of plans to shelve the reforms comes shortly after centre-right daily El Mundo reported that Rajoy had allegedly changed his mind, quoting sources from within the government.

“There’s no consensus regarding this bill, it’s looking unlikely that it will be approved,” Popular Party sources purportedly told the daily.

Under current Spanish legislation brought in by the previous Socialist government in 2010, women in Spain have the right to abortion on demand up to 14 weeks into their pregnancy.

Women also have the legal right to abort up to the 22nd week of pregnancy in cases where the mother’s health is at risk or the foetus shows serious deformities.

Under the previous 1985 law, abortion was a crime in Spain except in cases of rape, risk to the mother’s health or deformation of the foetus.

Irish ‘pro-life’ government threatens women’s lives


This 15 November 2012 video from Ireland is called UTV coverage – Vigil and Protest in Memory of Savita Halappanavar– Belfast.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Pregnant women face abortion ban in Ireland even if they’re a suicide risk

Guidelines allow pro-life medics to stop vulnerable women from terminating pregnancies at all costs, pro-choice experts warn

Henry McDonald in Dublin

Thursday 7 August 2014 18.27 BST

Pregnant women in Ireland could be blocked from having an abortion even if they are at risk of suicide after conceiving as a result of rape or incest, under new guidelines issued to Irish doctors.

Experts warned that the Guidance Document for Health Professionals, which has yet to be made public but has been obtained by the Guardian, will give power to doctors, obstetricians and psychiatrists to prevent vulnerable women from terminating their pregnancies.

Some clinicians, including one of the Irish Republic’s leading psychiatrists, said the rules would leave women “at the mercy of a local, moral and political lottery”. Veronica O’Keane, professor of psychiatry at Trinity College Dublin, said a woman could potentially have to see up to seven medical experts before getting a decision on her right to an abortion.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee, which has also been shown the document, has described the guidance on dealing with women contemplating suicide as “an excessive degree of scrutiny by medical professionals”.

The guidelines were drawn up after the Irish government introduced legislation last year to allow for abortion in extremely limited circumstances. The law followed the death of Savita Halappanavar, 31, who was denied an emergency termination that could have saved her life.

Pro-choice campaigners are concerned that conservative attitudes among health professionals will put more women’s lives at risk. More than 100 Irish psychiatrists – nearly one in three in the country – signed a statement last year opposing any kind of abortion reform, including those cases of women at risk of suicide.

The 108-page guide does not include provisions for an independent committee to make decisions on treating those with “suicidal intent”, which was a key demand among campaigners for reform. They argue an independent committee would be more objective than local medics and allow women more privacy.

Pro-choice doctors are also concerned that the language in the first few pages of the guidelines is more stridently anti-abortion than last year’s law. In its introduction, the document states that “the purpose of this act is to restate the general prohibition on abortion in Ireland“. Medical professionals are also advised on the first page that the act provides “a clear criminal prohibition on abortion”.

On page 10, a diagram explaining the procedure for applying for a termination makes clear to Irish doctors that the initial referral for women including those with “suicidal intent” begins with her own GP.

If the GP agrees, he or she will refer the woman to three doctors – including one obstetrician and two psychiatrists – who will decide whether there is a real risk to the woman’s life through suicide. If her request is rejected, she will go through an appeal system involving another two psychiatrists and another obstetrician.

The guidance states that the first psychiatrist to assess the woman has the right to “seek a second psychiatric assessment” or appoint a psychiatrist of their own choice. Critics say this will allow anti-abortion psychiatrists to recommend a colleague sharing the same views.

On the same page it advises that any of three medical experts, including an obstetrician, can assess a woman with suicidal intent and certify whether or not the woman should be allowed an abortion – although obstetricians have no mental health training.

O’Keane, a consultant psychiatrist for more than 21 years, said because there was no national body to rule on these cases vulnerable women were left “at the mercy of a local, moral and political lottery. They could come up against anti-choice physicians who in effect become conscientious obstructors to abortion.”

She added: “The repeated examination of a woman’s mental state by at least four doctors, and possibly seven, the repeated questioning specifically about suicidal ideation and intent, will not only be overly invasive, confusing and distressing emotionally, it will also be time-consuming in a period of crisis when a suicidal woman needs access to a termination as soon as possible.”

She called the guidelines “completely inappropriate”. “I would have preferred a national review panel to make these decisions because Ireland is a small country,” she said. “It would have been better in terms of privacy and access to mental health professionals who are committed to enacting the spirit of the legislation. We have a very strong anti-choice lobby in psychiatry and there should have been procedures put in place to allow women to bypass them and their moral, political, theocratic obstacles.”

O’Keane pointed out that the section called “Risk to life from Suicidal Intent” means pregnant women have to state explicitly that they are going to kill themselves before being considered for a termination.

“This is very bad practice because if psychiatrists are practising within these guidelines then that will be the stipulation, that the woman in question must state that. Yet in the majority of cases of suicide that psychiatrists deal with there is no stated intention of killing themselves.

“The terms of reference are too narrow and dangerous, and we in Ireland have very high rates of suicide and even a government drive to reduce suicide numbers. In these guidelines, what we are actually doing is saying to Irish women, ‘You have to actually tell us that you’re going to kill yourself or you won’t get that abortion.’ It is completely contrary to good psychiatric practice.”

London solidarity with Spanish women


This video from Belgium is called Thousands protest in Brussels on planned anti-abortion law in Spain.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Human rights group targets Spanish embassy over abortion Bill

Saturday 28th June 2014

HUMAN rights activists descended on the Spanish embassy yesterday in protest at the right-wing Madrid government’s plan to roll back abortion rights.

Dozens of campaigners from My Belly is Mine have taken action against Spain’s anti-abortion draft Bill discussed in the country’s parliament on Friday.

This video from London, England says about itself:

British Spanish Society Reception at Spanish Embassy, London Wednesday 25th of July

On Wednesday the 25th of June, 2014, the Spanish Ambassador in London, Federico Trillo, hosted a reception for the British Spanish Society. We turned up uninvited alongside direct action feminist group Speaking of I.M.E.L.D.A and the Spanish Women’s Assembly from the 15M movement in London. We wanted to remind the ambassador, his guests and passersby that the rights of women are under serious threat in Spain.

The Morning Star article continues:

“Women have fought for their rights with great spirit and determination,” said one of the organisers Jade Hope. “For their rights to now be taken away from them is a disgrace.”

The campaign has emphasised how almost 50,000 women die after unsafe and regulated abortions every year across the globe.

Ms Hope added that abortions should be exclusively a woman’s choice.

“No one else has the right to impact on such a tough decision and the Spanish government thinking they can is to deny human rights,” she said.

Women’s rights activists in Britain stood alongside protesters in Berlin, Vienna and Lisbon in solidarity with Spanish women.

JIM JEPPS interviews abortion rights activists Cristina Rios and Mireia Gargallo about feminism and solidarity among migrants in London. CRISTINA RIOS and Mireia Gargallo are both Spanish immigrants living in London, both are political activists working in the My Belly is Mine campaign and they’re also good friends — even though, in many ways, they come from very different places: here.