Rape and Forced Motherhood
Forced motherhood after rape is a violation of the human rights of the girls and adolescents who experience it. It means prolonging their pain, their trauma, and the psychological trauma they have been through, as well as placing a responsibility on them that is not their own, one for which they are not ready.
As if all this were not enough, it is the State that is deciding on the bodies and lives of (most times) girls and adolescents who have the sole desire to continue playing or studying. The State makes the decision to affect the lives of the girls, but does not provide (after appropriating that decision) any kind of help for the now mother.
According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Latin America has more than 2 million childbirths after rape, with Mexico at the top of the list. Globally, more than 7.3 million girls and adolescents give birth each year. Latin America and the Caribbean is the only region in which births increased in this population group.
In Latin America, the State does not act according to international standards. Whether it is because people are more conservative, because the old school still rules, because the population is mostly made up of people over 40 years old who are guided by less than modern beliefs, because it is a mostly macho culture, or because religion is still deeply rooted in a large part of the population; for whatever the reason, girls and adolescents are not supported to terminate their pregnancies resulting from rape if they wish to do so.
There is an incoherent opposition in which a rape is definitely condemned in the Penal Code, and yet the girl who was a victim of rape is forced to exchange (or even give) her life for the very product of that rape. Little consideration is given to the consequences that forced pregnancy can bring to girls and adolescents.
The consequences are not only for the mother, but also for the baby, who is likely to be raised in hostile or socially complicated environments even though the mother has the best intentions of providing more than necessary. This happens as she herself has had to deal with the physical complications of an early pregnancy, with the post-traumatic stress of rape, with depression and anxiety that often increase as the pregnancy progresses, and so on.
The girl’s mental state has already been affected by the rape and will continue to be affected if the pregnancy is forced upon her. The girl is not only questioned about the veracity of the rape, given tests insinuating that the crime cannot be confirmed, and treated as if she is partly to blame, but on top of that, she is forced to carry an obligation that will impact all spheres of her life.
In the face of the bioethical debate, Dr. Kimelman, an expert in perinatal attachment, states that part of the consequences of letting a pregnancy run its course after rape are post-traumatic stress, adaptive disorder, depression, and anxiety that develop and increase as the pregnancy progresses. (Humanas, 2021)
It is very difficult for a woman to achieve mental health after rape without a situation of equal human rights and autonomy over her own decisions. Forcing girls and adolescents to continue with a pregnancy that resulted from a traumatic experience implies re-victimizing them.
Today, there are organizations and movements such as #YoDigoNoMás, which are dedicated to providing support for women who have experienced sexual abuse, to make them see that they are not alone, and that, by sharing their story, they can save the lives of many more.
You can be part of the change, join this movement on behalf of yourself or hundreds of victims who have not been able to find their voice to speak out against this scourge.
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