Human Rights Watch has issued a new report, The Second Assault, outlining the harsh realities facing rape victims in Mexico. And they take place well after the actual rape. Despite the fact that abortions are technically legal in the case of rape in Mexico, women face a myriad of obstacles that usually thwart any attempt at a legal and safe abortion. According to Human Rights Watch:
A number of agencies in various Mexican states – particularly the state attorney general’s office, public hospitals and family services – employ aggressive tactics to discourage and delay rape victims’ access to legal abortion. A social worker in Jalisco, for example, showed scientifically inaccurate anti-abortion videos to a 13-year-old girl who had been raped and impregnated by a family member. Some public prosecutors threatened rape victims with jail for procuring a legal abortion, and many doctors told women and girls, without cause, that an abortion would kill them. As a result, many rape victims seek to resolve their situation by resorting to back-alley abortions that endanger their lives and health. Underage girls raped by their fathers or other family members often find themselves with no other alternative than to carry the imposed pregnancy to term.
Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, adds “state laws on domestic and sexual violence fall significantly short of Mexico’s international human rights obligations. The definition of incest as voluntary sex is an insult to the thousands of girls who suffer abuse daily. No one, and least of all girls raped and impregnated by their fathers or brothers, should be forced to carry a pregnancy to term.”
It’s estimated that approximately one million women are raped in Mexico each year. And it wasn’t until November, 2005, that the Mexican Supreme Court overturned a law that stated that rape in a married union was legal (so long as reproduction was the goal). Human Rights Watch couldn’t be more accurate in declaring that these victims are being assaulted twice—once by the rapist, and then by the public officials who deny them adequate rights.