Friday 8 February 2013

In Mexico, there are 318 ten-year-old mothers

A child "street clown" in Mexico
City with her adult handler. 
Indicative of attitudes, and
not so funny

The news that a nine year old girl had given birth in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, on January 27 has caused an international stir. However, Mexico’s Network for the Rights of Children (La Red por los Derechos de la Infancia, “REDIM”) has made it clear that Mexico should also be concerned about the overall level of vulnerability of young and adolescent girls throughout the country.

Specifically, the Network noted that in 2011 11,512 Mexican girls between the ages of 10 and 14 were registered as having had at least one child, among them 318 ten-year-olds.

Within the state of Jalisco, 465 girls between 10 and 14 were mothers. At the same time, the Network noted that nine out of ten mothers who were between the ages of 15 and 17 years old were not attending school. Their young motherhood has, in effect, contributed to them being denied the right to an education.

Worse, the Network asserts that these pregnancies were “the result of sexual abuse, rape, and social isolation”.
In a clear response to Mexican media reports – repeated verbatim and without comment by many English-language news sources – that the recent case of the nine year old “could” have been the result of abuse, the Network clearly states: “as in any type of sex with is considered sexual abuse.”

Concern has been expressed that officials released data that violated the girl’s right to privacy, and that she had been violated a second time when doctors inserted a subdermal contraceptive, relying on the grandmother’s consent and not the consent of the child herself.

The Network demanded that the Jalisco state government urgently attend to the need of the child and her family, so that they will not be revictimized, and specifically requested that officials be punished for violating the child’s rights. However, as with other medical interventions such as inoculations, this could be seen as an odd request given that it is usually the parents who consent to procedures conducted on minors.

It is unknown to what extent the child was consulted, or what medical information was given to her parents, a crucial point given that there are medical risks associated with contraceptive implants – especially in a nine year old.

(TE Wilson is the author of Mezcalero, a Detective Sánchez novel.)

Twitter: @TimothyEWilson
Email: lapoliticaeslapolitica [at] gmail [dot] com

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