ASUNCIóN, Paraguay, Aug. 13 (Danielle Haynes) — An 11-year-old girl who was denied an abortion after her stepfather allegedly raped her has given birth to a daughter in Paraguay, a country where nearly 700 girls under the age of 15 gave birth last year.
Doctors at the Reina Sofia hospital in Asuncion said the girl, whose name wasn’t revealed, delivered her daughter by Caesarean section Thursday. Asuncion Red Cross Director Mario Villalba told CNN both the mother and baby “are in good health condition.”
The baby weighed 6.6 pounds at birth.
The girl was 10 years old when her 42-year-old stepfather, Gilberto Benitez Zarate, allegedly raped her. Zarate is in jail awaiting trial and denies any wrongdoing. The girl’s mother also faces criminal charges for negligence.
Earlier this year, Paraguay’s health ministry denied the girl an abortion after it concluded her pregnancy didn’t constitute a health emergency. The predominantly Roman Catholic country only allows abortions in cases when the mother’s life is in danger.
But the World Health Organization says pregnancy for girls under the age of 15 is particularly dangerous because their bodies are not fully grown. The group said it is the leading cause of death for adolescent girls in developing countries. An estimated 70,000 adolescents die giving birth each year.
In 2013, the UN said some 2 million girls under the age of 15 give birth in developing countries each year. In Paraguay, alone, that number reached 684 in 2014.
“Too often, society blames only the girl for getting pregnant,” said UN Population Fund Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin in response to the 2013 UN report. “The reality is that adolescent pregnancy is most often not the result of a deliberate choice, but rather the absence of choices, and of circumstances beyond a girl’s control. It is a consequence of little or no access to school, employment, quality information and health care.”
Vilalba said there are two 12-year-old girls and a number of other teenagers currently waiting to give birth at the hospital in Asuncion.
“They are fighting,” he told the BBC. “You must invest in education. There is nothing else to be done.”