A 16-year-old Peruvian rape survivor filed a petition with the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) against Peru yesterday. While abortion is legal in Peru in case of risk to a woman’s health or life, the petition alleges that the failure of the Peruvian government to adequately enforce existing laws led to the anonymous survivor’s paralysis.
At age 13, the young woman was raped by a 34-year-old man and became pregnant. After discovering the pregnancy, she attempted suicide by jumping off a building. Doctors treated her injuries, but refused to perform necessary spinal surgery when they realized she was pregnant. Ultimately, the young woman had a miscarriage as a result of her injuries, but remained paralyzed after undergoing surgery.
A similar case was filed against Peru by the Center for Reproductive Rights in 2002. In that case, the UN Human Rights Committee ruled in favor of a young woman who was forced to carry to term a fetus with fatal abnormalities. The Committee ruled that access to abortion in the case of threats to maternal health is a human right and Peru was ordered to change their abortion laws.
Peru signed CEDAW on July 23, 1981. CEDAW is the most comprehensive international agreement that seeks women’s advancement. It establishes rights for women in areas not previously subject to international standards. Moreover, the Convention establishes a committee to periodically review the progress being made by its adherents. The US is the only industrialized western country that has not ratified CEDAW, which has been ratified by 185 countries.