SAN SALVADOR, Aug 03 (IPS) – Pregnancies amongst women and adolescents proceed unabated in Central America, the place laws to stop them, when it exists, is a lifeless letter, and governments are influenced by conservative sectors against intercourse schooling in faculties.
The newest incident reflecting this example was the Jul. 29 veto by Honduran President Xiomara Castro of an Integral Legislation for the Prevention of Adolescent Being pregnant, accepted by the single-chamber Congress on Mar. 8 and criticized by conservative teams and the nation’s political proper wing.
“We do not know the arguments behind the veto, however we might surmise that the legislation remains to be being held up by strain from these anti-rights teams,” lawyer Erika García, of the Women’s Rights Center, informed IPS from Tegucigalpa.
The affect of lobbying teams
Conservative sectors, united in “Por nuestros hijos” (“for our youngsters”), a Honduran model of the regional motion “Con mis Hijos no te Metas” (roughly “do not mess with my kids”), have opposed the legislation as a result of of their view it pushes “gender ideology”, as worldwide conservative populist teams name the present motion for the dissemination of girls’s and LGBTI rights.
In June, the United Nations expressed concern about “disinformation campaigns” surrounding the Honduran legislation.
The final of the marches in favor of “household and youngsters” came about in Tegucigalpa, the nation’s capital, on Jul. 22.
These teams “attraction to individuals’s ignorance, to concern, to faith, with arguments that don’t have anything to do with actuality,” stated García. “They are saying, for instance, that folks will put skirts on boys and pants on women.”
In accordance with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), one in 4 births is to a lady beneath 19 years of age in Honduras, giving the nation the second-highest teenage pregnancy rate in Latin America.
In accordance with the Honduran Penal Code having sexual relations with minors beneath 14 years of age is statutory rape, whether or not or not the lady consented.
In 2022, 1039 women beneath 14 gave start.
“The issue is sort of critical, and it’s aggravated by the dearth of public insurance policies to stop pregnancies amongst women and adolescents,” García stated.
Within the international locations of Central America, which have a mixed whole of some 50 million inhabitants, ultra-conservative views prevail relating to sexual and reproductive well being and schooling.
In El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua – in addition to the Dominican Republic within the Caribbean – abortion is banned beneath all circumstances, together with rape, incest or a menace to the mom’s life.
In the remainder of Central America, abortion is barely permitted in sure circumstances.
The Honduran president vetoed the legislation beneath the components “return to Congress”, in order that it may be studied once more and finally ratified if two thirds of the 128 lawmakers approve it.
“I did not even know what a condom was”
Nevertheless, having legal guidelines of this nature doesn’t be certain that the phenomenon shall be lowered, since laws just isn’t at all times enforced.
Since 2017 El Salvador has had a National Intersectoral Strategy for the Prevention of Pregnancy in Girls and Adolescents, and though the numbers have declined in recent times, they’re nonetheless excessive.
An UNFPA report famous that on this nation the being pregnant fee amongst women and adolescents dropped by greater than 50 p.c between 2015 and 2022.
Nevertheless, “it’s worrisome to see that El Salvador is among the 50 international locations on the earth with the best fertility charges in women aged 10-14 years,” the UN company stated in its newest report, launched in July.
Amongst women aged 10-14, the research famous, the being pregnant fee dropped by 59.6 p.c, from 4.7 women registered for prenatal care per 1000 women in 2015 to 1.9 in 2022.
The map of pregnancies in women and adolescents in El Salvador added that the nation “must additional speed up the tempo of discount, adopting insurance policies and techniques tailored to the completely different realities of women aged 10-14 years and adolescents aged 15-19 years.”
Such actions should be “evidence-based,” the report pressured.
The reference seems to be an allusion to the prevalence of conservative attitudes of teams that, in Honduras for instance, reject sexual and reproductive schooling in faculties.
This lack of fundamental information about sexuality, in a context of structural poverty, led Zuleyma Beltrán to fall pregnant on the age of 15.
“After I turned pregnant I did not even know what a condom was, I am not ashamed to say it,” Beltrán, now 41, informed IPS.
She added: “I suffered so much as a result of I did not know many issues, as a result of I lived in ignorance.”
Two years later, Beltrán turned pregnant once more however she miscarried, which landed her in jail in August 1999, accused of getting an abortion – a plight confronted by tons of of girls in El Salvador.
El Salvador not solely bans abortion beneath any circumstances, even in instances of rape. It additionally imposes penalties of as much as 30 years in jail for girls who’ve undergone abortions, and ladies who find yourself within the hospital after struggling a miscarriage are sometimes prosecuted beneath the legislation as properly.
“The State ought to be ashamed of forcing these women to provide start and never giving them choices,” stated Anabel Recinos, of the Citizens’ Association for the Decriminalization of Abortion.
“The State doesn’t present women with intercourse schooling or sexual and reproductive well being, and when pregnancies or obstetric emergencies happen in consequence, it’s too merciless to them, it solely presents them jail,” she added.
Recinos stated that, as a result of strain from conservative teams, the State has backed down on the technique of offering sexual and reproductive data in faculties.
“Now they’re extra rigorous in not permitting organizations working in that space to go and provides talks on complete intercourse schooling in faculties,” she famous.
Not even child components
In Guatemala, initiatives by civil society organizations that since 2017 have proposed, amongst different issues, that the State ought to provide reparations to pregnant women and adolescents, to alleviate their heavy burden, have made no progress both.
These proposals included the creation of scholarships, making it attainable for ladies to proceed going to highschool whereas their infants have been cared for and obtained components.
“However sadly we’ve got not been in a position to take the following step, to get these measures in place,” stated Paula Barrios, common coordinator of Women Transforming the World, in a phone dialog with IPS from the capital, Guatemala Metropolis.
Barrios stated that many of the customers of the companies supplied by this group, similar to authorized and psychological help, “are women and adolescents who’re pregnant due to sexual violence and are compelled to have their infants.”
She stated that within the final 5 years some 500,000 women beneath 14 years of age have change into pregnant, and the quantity is far greater when youngsters as much as 19 years of age are included.
“Right this moment we’ve got half 1,000,000 women who we do not know what they and the youngsters who’re the merchandise of rape are consuming,” Barrios pressured, including that as in El Salvador and Honduras, in Guatemala, having intercourse with a lady beneath 14 years of age is taken into account statutory rape.
“Society sees it as regular that ladies are born to be moms, and so it does not matter if a lady will get pregnant on the age of 10 or 12 years, they simply suppose she has achieved it a bit bit earlier,” she stated.
Patriarchy and capitalism
The specialists from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador consulted by IPS stated the foundation of the phenomenon is multi-causal, with aspects of patriarchy, particularly gender stereotypes and sexual violence.
“The patriarchy has an curiosity in stopping girls from going out into the general public sphere,” stated Barrios.
She stated the lifetime of a 10-year-old lady is reduce brief when she turns into pregnant. She is going to not go to highschool and can stay within the home sphere, “to boost kids and keep at house.”
For her half, Garcia, the lawyer from Honduras, identified that there’s additionally an underlying “system of oppression” that’s intertwined with patriarchy and colonialism, which is the affect of a hegemonic nation or area.
“We’ve got women giving start to low cost labor to feed the (capitalist) system, and there’s a higher feminization of poverty, women giving start to women whose future prospects are ruined,” she stated.
Within the meantime, to keep away from a repeat of her ordeal, Beltrán stated she talks to and teaches her nine-year-old daughter about sexuality.
“With the intention to preserve her from repeating my story, I speak to her about condoms, how a girl has to care for herself and the way she will get pregnant,” she stated.
“I do not need her to undergo what I did,” she stated.
© Inter Press Service (2023) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service