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11-Year-Old Rape Victim Who Was Denied An Abortion In Paraguay Gives Birth

An 11-year-old girl in Paraguay who was allegedly raped by her stepfather gave birth to a baby girl after being denied an abortion.

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Peter Prengaman / AP

A child holds a sign that reads "Sexual child abuse never again, screams without voice" in Spanish at a demonstration in Ciudad del Este, Paraguay, in May.

An 11-year old girl who became pregnant after she was allegedly raped by her stepfather gave birth to a baby girl on Thursday after being denied an abortion by Paraguayan authorities.

Paraguay, a majority Catholic country, has strict anti-abortion laws, allowing a pregnancy to be terminated only when the mother's health is deemed to be at risk.

In June, the Health Ministry rejected a request for an abortion, despite the opinion of a team of physicians who said in May that the girl would be exposed to many health risks if she continued with the pregnancy.

On Thursday, the 11-year-old gave birth by cesarean section at a Red Cross Hospital in Asunción, Paraguay.

Red Cross Director Mario Villalba told CNN that the baby and the 11-year-old "are in good health condition." The Associated Press reported that the minor was accompanied by her grandmother, who has requested custody of the child.

At the time the girl was raped, she was 10. After being taken to the hospital for abdominal pains, medical officials discovered she was pregnant.

The girl's mother then requested an abortion for her daughter and reported her husband, Gilberto Benitez, as the rapist. The 42-year-old man has denied the rape allegations and is awaiting trial. The girl's mother has been charged with negligence.

In a statement Thursday, Amnesty International said the 11-year-old is "lucky to be alive." The fact that she did not die "does not excuse the human rights violations she suffered at the hands of the Paraguayan authorities," the organization added.

The United Nations has reported that 2 million girls under the age of 14 give birth every year, many of whom suffer long-term and sometimes fatal health problems as a result. An estimated 70,000 adolescents die annually from complications caused by pregnancy.

Last year in Paraguay, 684 girls between the ages of 10 and 14 gave birth. Most of the minors were victims of sexual abuse, according to government officials.

Michelle Broder Van Dyke is a reporter and night editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Hawaii.

Contact Michelle Broder Van Dyke at michelle@buzzfeed.com.

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