Life

Rape victim, 13, refused access to an abortion

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Kayleigh Dray
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A young rape victim has been denied the right to an abortion in Sonora, Mexico, after a judge downgraded her abuser's crime from "rape" to "sexual coercion".

On 2 May 2016, the 13-year-old girl was raped by a work colleague of her father’s at her home in northern Mexico.

Just hours after the attack, she was taken by her family to a local police station, where she reported her abuser to the police.

According to the Group for Information on Reproductive Choice (GIRE), an organisation which defends the right of women to access legal abortion and contraceptive methods, the girl was not offered emergency contraception upon reporting the rape.

She was, however, later examined by doctors, who compiled a medical report showing physical evidence that she had been subjected to sexual violence.

Despite this, the judge presiding over the case has made the decision to downgrade the perpetrator’s sentence from rape to “illegal sex with a minor”, ruling that the man had gained the girl’s consent by deception.

As a result, the state health department has now said it cannot authorize a termination for the teenager, as only rape-related abortions are legal in Sonora, Mexico.

 She has the right as the victim of sexual aggression to end the pregnancy

The president of GIRE, Regina Tames, told El País: "She has the right as the victim of sexual aggression to end the pregnancy.

"The classification of the crime doesn't matter."

Now, at almost 12 weeks pregnant, the girl's only option is to travel to Mexico City, the only Mexican state where abortion is legal on demand up until the third trimester.

Watch below: An Al Jazeera documentary on Mexican abortion laws

Alex Ali, the lawyer now representing the teenager, told The Guardian: “This case reflects the systemic problem we have in Mexico, where various and diverse obstacles are put up to stop rape victims from accessing abortion.

“The federal government must assure that state health entities know they must guarantee women’s reproductive rights in these cases.”

Mexico currently has the highest number of violence, murder, and reported sexual abuse incidents against children under the age of 14.

And, other than Mexico City, all of the country’s other 31 states only allow a pregnancy to be terminated in cases of rape.

Yet, despite this, Mexican rape victims – regardless of their age - still have very limited access to safe and legal abortions.

Above: A Twitter post from GIRE calling for reproductive justice.

GIRE explains: “The majority of state attorney general’s offices do not emit authorization for abortions after rape.

“In the last five years, only 39 authorizations were offered.”

Given the legal restrictions and limited access to medical terminations, many women attempt to induce an abortion themselves – with horrifying consequences; in 2010 alone, abortion was the cause of 11% of maternal deaths in Mexico.

To find out more about laws surrounding abortion in Mexico, please visit the Group for Information on Reproductive Choice (GIRE) now.

Image: iStock

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is editor of Stylist.co.uk, where she chases after rogue apostrophes and specialises in films, comic books, feminism and television. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends. 

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