• Saturday, December 20, 2014
  • A program of IPS Inter Press Service supported by the Dutch MDG3 Fund

    Violence Hits Behind the News

    Paula Flores with her grandchild. She has struggled long for justice after her daughter Sagrario wasmurdered.

    Paula Flores with her grandchild. She has struggled long for justice after her daughter Sagrario wasmurdered. Credit: Daniela Pastrana

    Daniela Pastrana

    MEXICO CITY: Amalia is an indigenous Maya girl from a rural community in southern Quintana Roo, on Mexico’s Caribbean coast. She is 11, and in August became the youngest mother in the country when she gave birth to a baby girl, 51 cm long and just under three kilograms.

    Amalia was raped when she was 10, allegedly by her stepfather. She did not have the option of terminating the pregnancy because when detected it was too late for legal abortion.

    Her case highlights the government’s failures in dealing with violence against girls, overlooked due to the many other types of violence plaguing Mexico, such as the epidemic of drug-related murders, and the human rights violations attributed to the military and police. Amalia “represents an accumulation of social exclusions: she is female, a child, indigenous and poor,” Juan Martín Pérez, executive director of the Network for Children’s Rights in Mexico, which brings together more than 50 pro-child organisations, told TerraViva.

    In this Latin American country of 108 million people, there are 18.4 million boys and 17.9 million girls under 18. Violence against children occurs in one-third of households.

    A UNICEF study ranked Mexico second for mistreatment of children, after Portugal, among the 33 member countries of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). According to UNICEF, a large portion of this physical, sexual and psychological violence and neglect remains hidden, and is sometimes socially accepted.

    Secretary of health Juan Carlos Azueta says 5,500 adolescent pregnancies were reported last year in Quintana Roo state, 16 percent of which were the result of rape — in line with the national average.

    According to Mexico’s National Institute on Statistics and Geography, 180,500 adolescent mothers, ages 12 to 18, have not completed their basic education. Girls have higher school attendance rates than boys until age 16, when the balance starts to tip, in part due to early pregnancy.

    In some Mexican states, the laws are tougher on women who undergo abortions than on the rapists who impregnated them. According to government surveys, more than 60 percent of male adolescents believe it is solely the responsibility of the woman to take precautions against pregnancy.

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