The purpose of our blog is to discuss topical issues, stories, and situations, as well as to share what we are up to and new ways for you to get involved. We are always searching for possible answers to the question: Why is a girl's worth culturally and historically relative?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Child pregnancy can mean child death

Well developed: Doctors at the hospital outside Guadalajara have cast doubt on her real age because of her biological characteristics.

On January 27, 2013, a girl, referred to only as Dafne, gave birth in Mexico. What brought international attention to this event was the fact that the birth mother was said to be only 9 years old. After the birth, she was permanently sterilized by the doctors, against the will of her family. According to local police spokesman Lino Gonzalez, the baby girl was born in a hospital in Guadalajara, and the mother and baby are both doing well. Gonzalez said the girl's parents alerted police after the alleged father, a teenager the girl referred to as her boyfriend, had not been seen around their neighborhood. Neighbors also suggested that the girl's stepfather was the real father of her baby.    

This case has been been the subject of intense of media attention. Since the story first broke, it has been revealed that the actual age of the girl is 12, not 9 as originally stated, and the father of her baby has been proven to be her 44-year old stepfather. It is uncertain at this point why her mother lied about her age, it has been suggested that her mother, a suspected sex worker, "may have been trying to get her into school for the first time as she had not gone until now. Another more sinister reason could have been if, as has been claimed by neighbours, the mother is a prostitute who is trying to turn Dafne into a sex worker too, a nine-year-old could command a higher fee from clients than a teenager."

The exact age of the girl does not alter the horrifying ordeal she has gone through, and sadly her story is far from unique among under-aged girls around the world.  

In April of 2012 a 10 year-old Colombian girl gave birth, also to a baby girl. According to a June 2012 report from Save the Children, pregnancy is the biggest killer of teenage girls worldwide. The report  notes that "girls under 15 are five times more likely to die in pregnancy than women in their 20s. Babies born to younger mums are also at far greater risk and around one million babies born to adolescent girls die every year–babies are 60% more likely to die if their mother is under 18." Every year one million teenage girls die or are injured because of pregnancy or childbirth.  

These girls are having their girlhood, and sometimes even their lives, stolen from them. These stories are a reminder how necessary it is to support actions like One Billion Rising, a global campaign to end violence against women and girls and "bring about a time when women are cherished, safe, free, and equal."

-Emily Holm
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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