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Girls & Women

A 14-Year-Old Died Giving Birth to Her Rapist’s Child in Paraguay

A 14-year-old girl died giving birth to her rapist’s baby in Paraguay.

The teenager, who became pregnant after being raped by a 37-year-old man, has not been publicly identified. Her rapist was arrested on Thursday, Ricardo González Borgne, the head of the the National Secretariat for Children and Adolescents, said.

The girl had been hospitalized for 20 days due to pregnancy complications, according to the Guardian, and doctors were performing an emergency c-section when the young mother went into cardiac arrest three times and could not be saved.

Studies have shown that teenagers are at higher risk of experiencing pregnancy- and childbirth-related complications — regardless of whether or not they live in poverty or have access to adequate health care. Their bodies simply are not mature enough to safely carry and deliver a child.

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That was certainly the case for this 14-year-old girl.

“They attempted advanced resuscitation in intensive care, but we could not save her,” Hernán Martínez, the director of the National Hospital of Itauguá, told local news outlets. “Her body was not ready for a pregnancy.”

Around the world, pregnancy- and childbirth-related complications are the leading cause of death for girls between the ages of 15 and 19, according to the World Health Organization.

Adolescent pregnancy is more likely to take place in marginalized communities, and poverty and lack of education are major contributing factors, the World Health Organization says. A lack of access to reproductive healthcare, sex education, and contraceptives — in some cases exacerbated by policies and laws — are also barriers to adolescent girls’ control over their health and bodies.

Paraguay, where abortion is illegal except in cases where the mother’s life is in danger, has one of the highest pregnancy rates for girls between 10 and 14 in Latin America, according to the non-profit Equality Now.

According to the United Nations Population Fund, reproductive health care and sex education are limited in Paraguay — and this has contributed to its high rate of adolescent pregnancy and maternal mortality.

Read more: Why Women Need Health Funding Now More Than Ever

Paraguay is “a country that does not have a sex education based on science,” Rosalía Vega, director of Amnesty International in Paraguay, told the Guardian. “The authorities take advantage of the Catholic majority in the country to promote laws based on religious convictions, not scientific.”

The 14-year-old’s heartbreaking plight has been compared to the case of an 11-year-old girl — known as Mainumby — who gave birth to her stepfather’s child in 2015 after being raped and denied an abortion.

The UN office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights criticized the Paraguayan government’s refusal to grant the 11-year-old an abortion as a failure to protect the girl, particularly in light of country’s high incidence of sexual violence against underage girls.

Global Citizen campaigns in support of women’s rights and gender equality. You can take action here to tell world leaders that #SheDecides — every girl and every woman has a right to decide if, when, and with whom she wants to have children.