Contact: Brendan Wynne, firstname.lastname@example.org, +44 7593 300 794
During the upcoming visit of Pope Francis to Paraguay, Equality Now and CLADEM, international human rights organizations working for the protection and promotion of the rights of women and girls, call on His Holiness to intervene and demand that the Paraguayan state fulfil its international and national obligations and protects girls at risk of sexual abuse.
The life of 11-year-old “Mainumby,” a Paraguayan girl who became pregnant after repeated sexual abuse by her stepfather, is in extreme danger. She has been very ill throughout her pregnancy and is seriously undernourished and underweight.
Mainumby is not alone. An epidemic of sexual violence against young girls exists in Paraguay, which the state continues to ignore. Paraguay’s Ministry of Health reported that in 2014 alone, 684 girls aged 10-14 gave birth – a result of sexual violence in most cases.
Mainumby’s case serves as an example of the systemic and widespread violence against girls in Paraguay. Paraguay has ratified numerous international treaties which outline its obligations to protect the rights and best interest of the child, including her right to life, health, physical and psychological integrity, security of the person, and to be free from sexual violence, as well as access to justice and remedies for such crimes. On 8 June 2015, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued “precautionary measures” to Paraguay in this case, calling for an emergency response to prevent a potential risk of grave human rights violations.
“Mainumby’s mother’s cries for help were ignored by police, doctors and the Paraguayan government. We are alarmed by the culture of impunity and tolerance for sexual violence against girls in Paraguay and around the world. Many, like Mainumby, become pregnant as a result. Attention to this case by His Holiness, the Pope, would send a strong message that the pestilence of sexual abuse will no longer be kept in the shadows and effectively condoned”.
Shelby Quast, Policy Director, Equality Now
"In light of His Holiness, Pope Francis’ visit to Paraguay, we hope that the State of Paraguay will reaffirm its commitment to end child sexual abuse and forced pregnancy in the country. We urge the State to comply with the precautionary measures issued by the IACHR with due diligence, ensure the immediate protection of Mainumby, cease the violence and criminalization of her mother, and respect the exercise of her parental rights - including the right to make decisions about the health and well-being of her daughter
Elba Núñez, Regional Coordinator, CLADEM
Under our #JusticeForGirls initiative, Equality Now works to ensure justice for adolescent girls by supporting legal cases, which represent some of the most common and significant abuses of the rights of girls around the world. An estimated 150 million girls have experienced rape or other forms of sexual violence. We help to change the life of one girl, but also build pressure to push for meaningful and lasting systemic change.