In mid-August, a 10-year-old rape victim became the center of the debate on abortion rights in Brazil. It happened after her name and the address of the hospital where she was scheduled for a legal abortion leaked on social media.
On August 7, the girl went to the local São Mateus hospital in the Brazilian state of Espirito Santo, because she had abdominal pain. Some tests that were carried out confirmed that she was pregnant. A week later, the region's court of justice authorized the termination of the pregnancy as the result of rape.
Article 128 of the Brazilian Penal Code, drawn up in 1940, defines as exceptions “necessary abortion” or “abortion in case of pregnancy resulting from rape”, which allows the termination of pregnancy to be carried out by a doctor without criminal consequences . A federal court decision also allows abortion when the fetus is anencephalic.
According to the girl herself, her uncle started abusing her when she was six years old and threatened her not to tell anyone. State Civil Police arrested the 33-year-old suspect and charged him with rape on August 18.
Due to the advanced state of the pregnancy, the hospital in Vitoria, the capital of Espíritu Santo, stated that it did not have the technical capacity to carry it out. The girl was then transferred to Recife, in the northeastern state of Pernambuco, some 1,600 kilometers away. Between August 16 and 17, the CISAM-UPE hospital performed the induced abortion. This hospital specializes in high-risk pregnancies and care for women. Currently in Brazil, only 42 clinics attend this type of case, according to the Map of Legal Abortion.
Despite the authorities' efforts to ensure the absolute secrecy of the matter, Sara Giromini (also known as Sara Winter), a far-right activist and supporter of Bolsonaro, spread the girl's name and the address of the hospital on social media. This prompted abortion protesters to gather in front of the hospital.
On August 16, a judge gave Google (YouTube), Facebook and Twitter 24 hours to remove content that could be harmful to the girl. On August 19, Twitter announced the suspension of the Sara Giromini user account.
Although Giromini claimed that the girl's data was already being released online, the attorney general's office is asking her to pay 1.3 million Brazilian reais (about $ 230,000) in punitive damages.
Until the end of 2019, Giromini held a position in the Bolsonaro government's Ministry of Women, Family and Human Rights, which was led by Damares Alves. Alves, who is also an evangelical pastor, closely followed the girl's case and sent representatives to Espiritu Santo to follow up on the investigations. The Ministry denies having leaked any information about the girl. According to the report by journalist Allan de Abreu, after Alves' team's trip to São Mateus, anti-abortion protesters began visiting the girl's home to pressure her grandmother to stop the abortion:
Após to travel of the ministerial team and the state deputee to São Mateus, home to menina morava as the destination of a romaria of Catholics, evangelicals and Bolsonaristas politicians, all anti-abortion. We pressured her to convince her to convince her to have a criança.
After the trip of the Ministry team and a state deputy to São Mateus, the house where the girl lives with her grandmother became a place of pilgrimage for Catholics, Evangelicals and Bolsonaristas politicians, all against abortion. They pressured the grandmother to convince her granddaughter to have the child.
The president of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil, Walmor Oliveira de Azevedo, defined the interruption of the girl's pregnancy as an “execrable crime” and published this message on social networks:
Terrible sexual violence, but abortion violence is not justified, given all the resources available and made available to guarantee the life of two children. As omissões, or silence and the voices that arose in favor of such violence demands a deep reflection on the conception of being human.
Sexual violence is terrible, but abortion violence is not justified considering that we have all the existing resources to ensure the lives of both children. The omissions, the silence and the voices in favor of this violence require a deep reflection on the conception of being human.
Taking into account the impact of a forced pregnancy on a woman's health, both physically and psychologically, there is a growing debate about the importance of legalizing abortion as an essential element of women's rights.
Debora Diniz, an anthropologist, researcher and activist for the decriminalization of abortion, wrote an article in Marie Clarie magazine that it is not possible to be a feminist and be against abortion:
… There is nothing like being a feminist and defending cadeia as the destiny of women who façam abortion, ou seja, be “against or abortion”. (…) Phallus “against” or “favor” of abortion just to simplify our conversation. Abortion is not the subject of one side or another of the truth – it is an intimate and private escort of each woman. Maybe you will never come to have an abortion, but as a feminist you will know about her women with different experiences from today.
… There is no way to be a feminist and defend prison as a destination for women who abort, that is, to be “against abortion”. (…) I speak of being “against” or “in favor” to simplify our conversation. Abortion is not an issue in which the truth is on one side or the other, it is a private and intimate decision of each woman. Perhaps, you will never have to take it but, as a feminist you will always know how to welcome women with experiences different from yours.
Pro-choice groups have also shown support for the girl with the hashtag # PregnancyAt10Kills on Twitter:
Mulheres do Fórum De Mulheres de Pernambuco foram até or hospital to defend the life of a 10-year-old girl who was engraved for being stupid, uncle.
– Instituto Marielle Franco (@inst_marielle) August 16, 2020
The women of the Pernambuco Women's Forum went to the hospital to defend the life of the girl who became pregnant after being raped by her uncle.
Those are the people who support life! Pregnancy at 10 kills.
After the news about the case broke, news agencies began reporting on the staggering number of rapes against minors in Brazil: the country records about six abortions a day of girls, between 10 and 14 years old, who remained pregnant after rape, according to the BBC. In some cases, they were admitted to the hospital after miscarriages or attempted abortions made at home.
According to the Brazilian Public Safety Yearbook 2019, with regard to girls aged 13 and under, four were raped every hour in 2018. Data from the Ministry of Health show that at least 32,000 young people have had an abortion in the country since 2008.