Thursday, April 22, 2010

Victims of Child Sexual Abuse Need to Get Therapy, Not Give Birth

I blogged last summer about a Brazilian 9 year old girl who had been sexually abused repeatedly by her stepfather since she was 6 years old. She became pregnant, and had an abortion. Despite the fact that it would be physiologically impossible for the 66 pound girl to carry the twins she was impregnated with to term, the Catholic Church excommunicated the girl’s family and the doctors who helped her. This strikes me as a particularly callous thing to do; a family in the grips of such a crisis might need their church more than ever, to try to find comfort and heal.

Now a 10-year-old girl in Mexico, who is also the victim of rape by her stepfather, has become pregnant. The girl’s home state of Quintaroo allows abortion in rape cases within the first 90 days of a pregnancy, but the girl is just about a month over that limit. However, the girl and her mother weren’t told about their option to get an abortion when her mother reported the assault last month (and apparently no one was sure how far along the girl was at the time).

Who in their right mind would insist that a 9 or 10 year-old girl carry a pregnancy to term? The average female’s hips don’t widen until the end of puberty (when she is closer to 13 years old), so neither of these girls would have been or will be able to deliver vaginally. The cognitive development of children must also be considered in these kinds of cases; children under 11 or 12 don’t have the full capacity to think logically, and are still egocentric in nature (according to Piaget, who is pretty much the most widely revered and respected authority on children’s cognitive development).

These girls are victims of child sexual abuse, and require extensive therapy to facilitate the healing process. Child sexual abuse has absolutely devastating and long-lasting effects on its victims. An experience that is physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausting like pregnancy and childbirth is simply way too much for these victims to handle. And it is criminal for someone to insist that these girls go through it.

Cases like these really make it clear that our nation AND world need to raise awareness about child maltreatment, and specifically child sexual abuse. We must do much more in they way of prevention, and do what we can to stop cases like these from ever happening in the first place. The well-being of our world’s children needs to move from the backburner of our agendas to the forefront of our minds.

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