Girl-mothers, synonymous with sexual violence

Mother’s Day is a special day for all of us who are mothers because we have wanted to be. Unfortunately, for many women it is still a destiny predefined by social convention, not necessarily by personal conviction. Worse still, in too many cases it is the obvious result of sexual violence, frequently suffered on a recurring basis. The Sexual and Reproductive Health Observatory (Osar) reported that in 2021 alone, 72,077 births of boys and girls whose mothers were between 10 and 19 years old were registered; 2,041 were girl-mothers between 10 and 14 years old. As the Osar report points out, every pregnant girl is equal to sexual violence and, therefore, a crime. By March 2022 there were already 19,024 births in children under 19 years of age, of which 566 were in girls between 10 and 14 years of age. Huehuetenango, Guatemala, Alta Verapaz, San Marcos, Quiché, Petén and Quetzaltenango show the highest number of cases.

There are no signs that this situation will improve, despite the fact that, since 2013, there has been something called the “Comprehensive Care Route for Girl Victims of Sexual Violence”, which supposedly integrates the actions of different State entities, Executive, Legislative, Judicial, Renap and PGN, with the aim of ensuring the protection and well-being of girl-mothers, restoring their rights and reducing the damage caused to their lives. On the part of the Executive Branch, the main responsibilities fall to the Ministries of Health, Education and Social Development.

Since 2015, Osar has been monitoring the “Ruta” in three departments with a high incidence of cases. The results are not very encouraging: Osar points out that “the conditions of vulnerability, poverty, revictimization and lack of access to justice have been constant in these cases.” A clear example of this is the “Vida” program, created by Mides in 2017, with a conditional cash transfer that is delivered to raped girls who became pregnant (that is, it does not include those who were raped but did not become pregnant), in exchange for complying with the co-responsibility of attending health services.

Anyone would say: Great, they’re doing something! But, for a change, said program has so many design and operational problems that it ends up defeating its purpose. To begin with, its coverage is absurdly limited: between 2018 and 2019, it covered just 136 pregnant girls, out of 3,745 reported pregnancy claims in that period. In 2021, “Vida” covered 164 girls under the age of 14, according to the Guatemalan News Agency. That is to say, barely 8% of the cases that occurred that year. Second, the design of the program is exclusionary and bureaucratic: for example, girl-mothers between the ages of 10 and 12 do not receive a stipend; It can also leave girls who were raped by someone NOT related to them uncovered. Third, it only covers girl-mothers whose cases have been prosecuted and the judge has already ordered that social protection be provided, which, by the way, is delivered very late, when it is delivered. On top of that, the program does not prioritize the departments where there is a higher incidence of pregnancies in girls. As if that were not enough, it has an annual allocation of barely one million five hundred thousand quetzales, and worse: they cannot even manage to execute it in its entirety!

If a complete evaluation of the entire “La Ruta” were made, we would surely find horrifying things like these in other programs and agencies involved. What is most alarming is that it seems to be enough to be able to announce that there is “a program” and give it the bombastic antonym of “Life” to think that the girl-mothers of this country have already fulfilled it.

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Girl-mothers, synonymous with sexual violence