April 10, 2009

Yet another child rape in Mexico highlights the fight between pro-life and pro-choice!

By Mariana Martínez

A man accused of raping his own daughter was arrested April 3rd in Tijuana. The girl, who is 12 years old, is pregnant as a result of her father’s rape.

According to the case file, 32 year-old Israel Estrada Olivo, was raping his daughter for at least three years, ever since the girl was just 9 years-old.

In 2006, the 9 year-old girl, who we will call Lucia to protect her identity, had some vaginal bleeding so her mother took her to the clinic thinking she might be starting her menstrual cycle at an early age, but instead found out that her Lucia had been raped and she was naming her own father as the perpetrator.

Leticia, Lucia’s mother, returned home and confronted her husband, but instead of calling the police, she fled with her three children to go live at her sister’s house in Rosarito.

After two years of begging, Leticia finally gave in to Israel’s pleas and decided to go back.

But the man lied, and he continued raping Lucia while his wife was at work. He threatened the child so she would not tell of the abuse, and it worked, until the girl fell ill and was taken to a clinic, where she was diagnosed with asthmatic bronchitis…and an 8 week pregnancy.

Israel confessed his crime and is now in jail facing charges of aggravated rape that if found guilty could mean 15 years in jail. The mother has also been arrested on charges of accessory to rape and child neglect.

This recent case in Baja California is not just a private tragedy, but it is setting the stage for a new confrontation between pro-life and pro-choice activists in the state.

About a year ago, state legislators started to approve changes in regulations that establish “a right to the protection of life since conception”, in fact eliminating all exception clauses that allow for a legal termination of pregnancy in cases of rape, endangerment or serious malformation of the fetus.

These changes in state constitutions have been aproved in seven states in Mexico; Sonora, Baja California, Morelos, Jalisco, Colima Durango y Puebla.

The measures are proposed mainly by local political figures from the ruling conservative party, PAN, as a direct reaction after the Mexican Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Mexico City Government, that now permits abortion in the country’s capital.

Since then, local governments have given in to pro-life organizations and put forth legislation that prohibits the legal interruption of pregnancy all together; even in the case of minors being raped, like Lucia.

This is not without precedent, in the year 2000, PAN leadership in the state prevented another child, 13 year-old Paulina from having an abortion despite the fact she had been raped and therefore permitted to do so under the law.

While lawyers scrambled to get legislation passed which would allow doctors to perform the abortion, Paulina gave birth to a boy. The case was then taken to the Inter-American Human Rights Court (IHRL) that issued a ruling in March 2006, asking the Mexican government to create a law preventing institutions from forcing religious views on patients or victims, as they did in the Paulina case.

The result was Law 046, for the protection of women against violence, but the law was never published and therefore never took effect, and now, local legislations are approving laws that are opposite of the recommendation by the IHRC, by protecting the fetus over the woman’s health.

Among the seven states, only the Baja California Human Rights Commission has filed a challenge to the new laws as unconstitutional changes. To date no response has been issued regarding the constitutionality of the laws.

While a fragmented society battles over the division between Church and State, policy makers insist on pushing their own private views into the public agenda, and young women like Paulina, and now Lucia, go trough terribly painful ordeals, victimized over and over again.

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