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Peru Should Provide Comprehensive Reproductive Care for Girls

UN Committee Finds Peru Violated Girl’s Human Rights, Urges Abortion Reform

Feminist groups march on International Abortion Day to demand a legal, free and safe abortions in Lima, Peru, September 28, 2022.  © 2022 Martin Mejia/AP Images

When Camila (a pseudonym), an Indigenous girl in rural Peru, was 13, she became pregnant after years of rape by her father. Authorities denied her request for an abortion, even though the pregnancy posed serious risks to her life and health. Later, when Camila had a miscarriage and sought emergency health care, authorities prosecuted her – and forced her through a traumatizing court process.

Abortions in Peru are punishable by up to two years in prison, except when the life or health of the woman, girl, or pregnant person is in danger. Camila’s case fit this exception for what are known as “therapeutic abortions.” Even so, she was convicted in 2018 and only acquitted on appeal a year later.

With support from Promsex, Planned Parenthood Global and the #NiñasNoMadres movement, Camila took her case to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Last week, the committee found Peru responsible for violating Camila’s rights to life, health, privacy, and to be free from discrimination and torture or cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment.  

This measure of accountability is sorely needed in a country where too many girls like Camila have their sexual and reproductive rights trampled. The Ombudsman’s Office, a government office tasked with protecting human rights, has warned that Peru still does not offer a comprehensive response to survivors of sexual violence, and girls often lack access to justice and physical and mental health services. Between January and April, Peru reported 2,388 cases of rape of girls under 18 – approximately 20 girls every day.

The committee urged Peru to guarantee access to reproductive health services, including abortion care. In a country where 1,100 girls under 15 become pregnant every year, effective and nondiscriminatory access to legal and safe abortion in all cases of child pregnancy is critically important.

To prevent harm to other girls like Camila, Peru should immediately decriminalize abortion. Peru should also amend its regulations relating to therapeutic abortion to ensure girls can access abortion and post-abortion care, in line with the principles of the best interests of the child and of non-revictimization.


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