A plea for pregnant rape victims in Mexico

Human Rights Watch documents government negligence in granting survivors access to legal abortions.


Sarah Goldstein
March 10, 2006 3:18AM (UTC)

Yesterday, we posted on Paulina Ramirez, a young Mexican woman who was denied a legal abortion after she was raped at 13. According to a Human Rights Watch report released on Tuesday, this kind of negligence and obstruction of law is standard fare in Mexico. The 92-page report, based on interviews with more than 100 officials, attorneys, doctors and rape survivors, titled "The Second Assault: Obstructing Legal Abortion After Rape in Mexico," says that despite a 1931 law that allows abortion in cases of rape, 29 of 31 states do not provide clear guidelines on access to legal abortion for rape survivors.

Women must jump through a series of bureaucratic hurdles to obtain an abortion, which makes it a prolonged, emotionally taxing process. They must file a legal complaint about the rape, and obtain a court order for the abortion, according to the report. In Mexico City, they must go through the humiliation of being photographed like criminals before and after the procedure.

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The report recommends that Mexico's Congress pass a measure that would provide access to safe abortions, and punish officials who attempt to block women's access. According to government estimates, more than 120,000 women and girls are raped in Mexico annually, but fewer than 10 percent of rape cases are reported.


Sarah Goldstein

Sarah Goldstein is an editorial fellow at Salon.

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