Written by Staff Writer, CNN London
At least 1,000 girls between the ages of 14 and 17 gave birth in Paraguay during a three-year period up to the end of 2017, Amnesty International has reported, calling for urgent action on the country’s sexual and reproductive health.
The organization has calculated the number of girls who became pregnant from 2015 to 2018 as a result of unprotected sex, or rape and human trafficking.
CNN published a report in February detailing the involvement of Paraguayan law enforcement and various non-governmental organizations in trying to prevent sexual abuse of minors.
The report called out the country’s failings in protecting girls from becoming pregnant.
“Recent studies show a rise in the number of incidents of sexual violence against girls in schools and greater rape rates, and a lack of comprehensive sex education in schools appears to be directly linked to these risks,” the report read.
Amnesty International has estimated that in the three-year period between 2015 and 2018, between 720 and 1,000 girls between the ages of 14 and 17 gave birth in Paraguay. As part of the research, the human rights group interviewed abortion rights activists in the country.
There are reportedly “acts of sexual violence against girls in schools and schools that do not get reported,” it said.
“Studies show that sexual violence is common and reports of sexual violence in Paraguay are often perceived to be too difficult to pursue. Numerous sexual and gender-based violence cases at the national and local levels have not been resolved.”
According to a recent government survey, between 35% and 45% of women and children in Paraguay suffer from some kind of sexual abuse, Amnesty added.
The International Olympic Committee introduced a pilot program in South America in 2016, with Paraguay the first country to implement the program.
The program teaches pregnant and new mothers about family planning and other resources, and offers guidelines for them. IOC President Thomas Bach said the program proved a useful tool in dealing with sex trafficking and sexual exploitation.
“Under the direction of the (Paraguayan) government, a pilot program to curb the spread of sexual exploitation has been successfully implemented,” he said in a statement.
Amnesty’s findings are a reminder of the devastating impact of child pregnancy. In some countries around the world, girls as young as nine get pregnant — often by someone close to them.
Researchers have found that an estimated 80% of victims of child marriage are girls aged 15-17. Around 200 million girls around the world are estimated to be in the sixth or seventh month of pregnancy.