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9 Year Old Incest Victim’s Abortion Sparks National Debate in Brazil

9 Year Old Incest Victim’s Abortion Sparks National Debate in Brazil

A week ago, I brought your attention Plan’s “Because I’m A Girl” campaign–an effort to protect girls around the world who are denied access to health services and education, and also face extremely high levels of violence, abuse and harassment.

In a real life example of how dire the need to protect girls, a 9 year old Brazilian girl’s mother was excommunicated by the Archbishop allowing her daughter to abort twins the daughter claims were the result of being raped by her stepfather. Doctors determined that the child’s uterus was not capable of supporting one fetus, let alone two and that trying to bring the pregnancy to term and give birth to the twins would most likely kill her. What was the response of her church to this crime?  Her Archbishop excommunicated her mother for allowing the abortion to happen and the doctors who performed the procedure.  The girl’s stepfather, who has been arrested for raping the child and her sisters repeatedly, is the only person not excommunicated by the Archbishop. How’s that for compassion?

The New York Times reports that the Brazilian Ministry of Health reports that the number of legal abortions of girls ages 10 to 14 more than doubled last year, and according to medical professionals and other experts, there is a widespread problem of sexual abuse of under-age girls that may be getting worse. From the Times story:

“A part of Brazilian society still doesn’t want to stop treating women like they are property,” said Jefferson Drezett, a gynecologist and coordinator of the sexual-abuse victims service at the hospital. “This has to change.”

Keep in mind that most of Brazil’s abortions are not legal. The Ministry of Health estimates about one million unsafe or clandestine abortions every year and they don’t know how many of these dangerous abortions involve girls who are victims of rape and incest.

What is more alarming about this case is how often it occurs around the world.  According to Plan, 68,000 teenage girls die from unsafe abortions every year and teenage girls account for nearly half of victims of sexual assault worldwide.  We don’t even know what those same statistics are for even younger girls like this Brazilian victim. That’s why it’s so important to support Plan’s Because I’m A Girl campaign.

As I searched for an image of a “Brazilian girl” on Google, it’s no surprise that the results returned pages and pages of bikini-clad women. Another disappointing reflection on how our society turns women into girls and girls into sexual objects.

Correction: the first version of this post reported that the 9 year old victim had also been excommunicated. This is not the case.

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Patrick Herzog, AFP/Getty Image

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91 comments

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7:54PM PDT on Mar 13, 2013

I grew up Catholic, but I never felt like I fit in there. As others have mentioned, it's full of guilt and sin. I freed myself, got back to my ancestral roots, and I'm a better and happier person for it.

What the "Archbishop" doesn't realize that his fantasy realm doesn't always match-up with what happens in the real world. It doesn't seem to matter him, or the Church for that matter, that this young girls' life was endangered. These "religious" people have no compassion. They feel they have a gigantic lead in the divinity area, while they turn their nose up at those who are unfortunate enough to have crossed their beliefs.

This troubles me as it is an abuse of power. Of course, people give them this power. When the people wake up and realize there is no separation between them and deity, these "holy" people will lose their power, and along with it their big houses and fancy things. Such worldly people they are.

5:15PM PDT on Aug 5, 2010

Yes, the Vatican should in fact reverse it's decision. If the Vatican refuses I would encourage the mother reject any notion that she has been brainwashed into believing that belonging to the Catholic Church puts anyone on any kind of higher moral or spirtual plane than other people and she is really better morally and spirtually for leaving the church. The clergy, bishops, cardinals and popes flushed their moral credibility down the toilet a long time ago. They don't have any business telling anybody what to do. I am a former Catholic, and if they tell me what to do I will tell them where they can go.

3:23PM PDT on Apr 14, 2009

good creat this world in a very good and perfect conditions,he sended profets moise jesus and mahomet,after that he dcide to put this world peltage automatic.for that no need to kill each other for problem of religion.so better to manipulate one commun religion for all.

5:58AM PDT on Apr 14, 2009

I've recently found that I'm pregnant. The baby's father is Catholic and I'm Protestant. I've been struggling over which religion the baby will be brought up in. This particular story clenched it. My child will never be Catholic. These spiritual leaders should have excommunicated the step-father and supported this child of only 9 in the abortion. This has got to affect the child deeply... Abortion is never easy. But to be 9??!

6:38PM PDT on Apr 13, 2009

This is absolutely disgusting. One more reason why I'm an atheist. How people can put their ridiculous beliefs in mythical stories above the welfare, no wait, LIFE of a 9 year old child astonishes me. The 'if men could get pregnant' comment...so true.

5:02AM PDT on Apr 13, 2009

They need to excommunicate the Bishops, Priests, Brothers etc that have done the wrong thing. Instead of moving them to there next place. To do wrong again.

11:51PM PDT on Apr 12, 2009

It's not only in Brazil that change needs to take place and quickly. Our own country is trying hard to reverse Roe v. Wade- the fact that this Archbishop acted as he did? Well, it seems to me that he should be disciplined for making such an irrational, cruel judgment against this child's mother. Why, oh, why, do women still have to fight SO hard to be treated justly and humanely in this world?

5:05AM PDT on Apr 12, 2009

This tragedy reminds me of the bumper sticker:

"If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament."

I don't doubt it for a minute. And they'd turn it into a sacred church rite with incense and candles too.

6:07PM PDT on Apr 10, 2009

Just one more reason the Catholic church and its teachings make me sick to my stomach.

9:16AM PDT on Apr 10, 2009

Jesus taught the love of God, and the immediacy of that love and forgiveness to those. Catholicism teaches about sin and endless guilt, and that God's love can only be mediated by a priestly hierarchy. That makes Catholicism the opposite of the teacher it claims to profess.

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