New “Stolen Lives” report documents startling prevalence of sexual violence, with dire consequences for girls’ physical, mental and social health
NEW YORK, NY — Planned Parenthood today released new data showing that forced pregnancy is startlingly prevalent among young adolescent girls in Latin America, with dire consequences for their physical, mental and social health. The data were released as part of the “Stolen Lives” report, which combines testimonials with quantitative studies conducted recently in four Latin American countries (Guatemala, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Peru) by Planned Parenthood regional staff and partners, with support from Ibis Reproductive Health.
“Pregnancy and birth carry higher health risks for young girls. If they do not die as the result of their pregnancy, young adolescents are more likely to face pregnancy-related complications than their older counterparts,” said Latanya Mapp Frett, executive director, Planned Parenthood Global. “As victims of rape, incest, and sexual violence, these girls have already been violated. Forcing them to carry a pregnancy to term against their will compounds the trauma they have already experienced, and is a violation of their human rights.”
In one study, the majority of young adolescent participants experienced at least one pregnancy complication. And in each of the four country studies, a significant proportion of young adolescents who had given birth reported symptoms of depression, anxiety and, particularly for those who had been sexually assaulted, post-traumatic stress. The studies found social impacts as well, such as discontinuing education.
“Latin America and the Caribbean is the only region in the world where pregnancies among very young girls are on the rise. We need to address the impact that these pregnancies have, particularly on the mental and social health of these girls, whose lives are changed forever,” said Ximena Casas, senior advocacy program officer, Latin America Program, Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “Where abortion is legal, governments must allow victims of sexual violence to obtain access to safe and legal abortion. And ultimately, abortion should be decriminalized to promote health for all.”
“The findings from each of the four countries are similar to what we see in the published literature — pregnancy at a very young age affects these girls in all of the dimensions of their health,” said Dr. Daniel Grossman, a professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco. “The strength of this report is that is also gives a face to these girls by revealing details of their tragic stories.”
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has urged states to adopt urgent measures to ensure that sexual and reproductive rights are respected. This week, Planned Parenthood will present the findings of the “Stolen Lives” report during a thematic hearing on the human rights of pregnant women.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With approximately 700 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Internationally, Planned Parenthood Global partners with over 50 organizations in Africa and Latin America to provide and defend access to sexual and reproductive health care services. Last year, Planned Parenthood Global partners helped organizations that reached over 1 million people, many of them in Latin America, with sexual and reproductive health information and services.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With approximately 700 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.
Planned Parenthood Federation of America media office: 212-261-4433
October 19, 2015