What About Her?

The rape of a 12-year-old girl by her 65-year-old neighbor in Argentina resulted in a pregnancy that has become a huge controversy in the country, but not for the right reasons.

The parents of this young rape survivor asked permission for their daughter to be allowed an abortion, as the medical procedure is banned in the country, with exceptions for rape victims and mothers whose lives are at risk. The Supreme Court granted the abortion, but doctors wouldn’t perform it. The family had been harassed by pro-life groups who sought an injunction to prevent the abortion from happening when the request was made.

In the end, the parents allowed their daughter to have a cesarean section while six months pregnant. The baby was born via the procedure and died a few days later from health complications. Pro-life groups requested the cesarean be delayed and are now calling for an investigation to the death of the baby.

Both sides of the abortion debate kept this story alive, having just gone through a potential bill to legalize abortion in the country in 2018. The bill, which would have legalized abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy, failed to receive the votes in favor of the law. Much has been talked about regarding this pregnancy. But what hasn’t received enough attention is this child who was raped in the first place.

She had to go through the horror, terror, and trauma of being brutally raped. Her perpetrator, a 65-year-old monster who lived next door to her. This abominable act resulted in a pregnancy. Her government allowed her to terminate this unwanted pregnancy, but doctors denied her the right.

What about her rights? What about her experience? What about her parents backing her wishes? Where’s the outrage over her rapist? A disgusting and dangerous human preyed on this child and ripped her life apart. The only side to think about this survivor was and still are the pro-choice activists, as they should. But where is anyone talking about the constant everyday occurrence of male violence against women and girls?

According to UNICEF, girls between the ages of 10 and 14 account for 2, 700 births every year in Argentina. Is your mind blown? Because I’m losing my mind over that statistic. How is this real? How is this possible? Let me think about it. Rape. No child can consent to sex. Sorry. You don’t have little girls from ages 10 to 14 giving birth without being impregnated by rape.

This young survivor and her attack have been lost in all of the controversy surrounding her former pregnancy. It’s shameful. She has to live the rest of her life trying to heal from this. Why doesn’t this world care more about the person attacked and the act, than the pregnancy that results from it? The patriarchy rears its ugly head yet again. Men in religious houses, political offices, boardrooms, and in bedrooms have this need to control women and keep us in line by controlling our bodies. Your children’s bodies are not off-limits for them either.

The President of Sierra Leone has declared a national emergency in the country due to the rape of young girls, the most recent case being a five-year-old girl who was brutally raped by her 28-year-old uncle and paralyzed from the waist down as a result of the attack.

President Julis Maada Bio spoke publicly about the increasing number of rape cases in the country and said that while there are hundreds of cases of rape and sexual assaults reported each month, "some families practice a culture of silence and indifference toward sexual violence, leaving victims even more traumatized."

Bio pledged that victims of rape and sexual abuse would be cared for by state hospitals free of charge and will make the crime of sex with minors, punishable by life in prison. In a speech, Bio revealed that 70 percent of survivors of sexual assault are under the age of 15. According to United Nations data, nearly half of Sierra Leone's women will experience sexual or physical violence in their lifetime, while 90 percent of women from ages 15 to 49 have been victims of genital mutilation.

It's not an exaggeration to say that there is a war on women and girls. From Sierra Leone to Argentina, this war on women and girls must come to an end. The New York Times reported this story in detail and quoted TV producer and blogger, Vickie Remoe, who writes about Sierra Leone's political issues. She pointed out that while there is a law in place criminalizing sex with anyone under the age of 18, the law rarely is enforced. In Sierra Leone, she said boys and men have been socialized to view girls as "for the taking." Remoe thinks its men's behavior that needs to change and came up with 12 ways that men can help combat rape in the country, which you can view here. She's not wrong. The participation of men in changing this toxic and violent behavior so that it's not reinforced from one generation to the next would be a monumental step in the right direction towards ending this violence.