Category Archives: child sex abuse

The Roots of Rape in India


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Kancha Ilaiah

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By Kancha Ilaiah

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Raped wife

Rape has, of late, become an acute disease in the Indian society. Prima facie, this is a problem arising out of a mental disorder, but there is also a larger cultural context that, to an extent, explains how the Indian male became so brutal.

Our cultural upbringing conditions male minds to behave in a cruel fashion with women. Family upbringing, societal conditioning, religious sagas and political animus, all construct our men and women into being what they are — men as aggressive and women as submissive. Which is why men here, in India, are different from men in other countries.

Their cultural milieu is different. Their spiritual systems train them differently. It’s not that only Indian men rape and kill children aged three or five. This happens in other countries too, but they are the rarest of rare cases. Daily reports of infants being raped across the length and breadth of a country is a phenomenon unique to India, a society that’s otherwise highly conservative. Clearly, the institutional upbringing, including that in family, needs to undergo change.

Every time a gruesome rape gets reported, we all are ashamed and angry. That’s one thing; but working out ways and means to eradicate such evil is another thing. We cannot leave it entirely to the police or the judiciary to tackle such heinous acts. For, rape is also a cultural problem; and it is a more serious problem because of the extermination of the victim. We need to treat the malaise from its very roots.

We are a society that derives its sense of good and bad from our mythologies and spiritual ethics. Our gods and goddesses are not only worshipped but also adored. And it is our lifelong endeavour to emulate them. This is the cultural environment that shapes the lives of most people in India. So it’s natural that what gods do influences us much more than the moral lesson at the end. Now consider this: we have gods who, for instance, have cut the nose and ear lobes of a woman who approached them professing her love (Lakshman is depicted as having done this to Shurpanakha), and yet we adore him and see him as a symbol of loyalty, sacrifice and righteous indignation.

Lord Krishna stole the clothes of women while they were bathing in the Yamuna river. He did so to tease them and for the pleasure of watching the beauty of their naked bodies. We hang miniature paintings of the same act in our homes proudly. The young men who grow up seeing this, or listening to the story told in an amused tone are bound to not find such an act abhorrent.

We also have a god, Shiva, who insisted on entering the bathing arena of Goddess Parvati and did so by eliminating a child who was keeping guard at the open door. Lord Ganesha is said to have emerged out of such a union. Is this right or wrong? Our mythology tells us that what a husband does is right, that his will is greater than the woman’s. If a mythological hero is praised for his acts of killing, drinking and fornicating with multiple women (like Indra did with Rambha, Urvashi, Menaka, Tilottama and so on), it is glorification of such behaviour.

When such stories are a part of the mythological texts, they should, at least, be critically evaluated and given a more contemporary, political reading which is rooted in the concept of equality. Instead, the tendency is to not question what our gods did, but simply admire such acts.

Barring a few exceptions, there is no appreciation, per se, of a healthy man-woman relationship which is rooted in the concept of equality. Indian women are shown as lathangi (a person of delicate body), never strong enough to resist her dehumanisation. Though Durga and Kali are shown as strong, in real life such militancy is not seen as feminine.

Now let us turn to the political spectrum. We have had many great men — Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan etc — who got married at a young age with girls of much younger age, went abroad for higher studies, leaving their wives at home totally illiterate or semi-literate. We do not know how these men, or Gokhale and Tilak, treated their wives.

But we know that they were all devotees of the deities mentioned above. The only man who treated his wife as a friend and educated her right from the first day of his marriage, Mahatma Jyotirao Phule, is not taught as an example to be emulated in our texts.  Somehow, in our patriarchal cultural milieu, unkind and inhuman treatment of women has never been a matter of concern. It’s considered sacrilegious, for example, to question Lord Ram for leaving his dutiful wife on the random outburst of a dhobi.

And Sita’s action, in turn, to not question, but to commit suicide, is considered the epitome of all that is pious. Even Gautam Buddha left his young wife, with an infant child. Questioning such acts has never been part of our public discourse.

Or, look at our cinemas. Ever since the industry came into being, silent or talkie, it has used woman’s body as a money-making object. The song and dance sequence that it has adopted as an art form falls into a common pattern — every hero is licensed to misuse the body of the heroine. The romance in our film industry is not romance; it is vulgarity bordering on the criminal.

So is it a surprise that men of this country see it as their right to violate women in all spheres of life?

The writer is director, Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy, Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad

Re-posted from DECCAN Chronicle (May 10, 2013)

Kancha Ilaiah (5 October 1952) is an Indian activist and writer. His books include Why I am not a HinduGod As Political Philosopher: Budha’s challenge to BrahminismA Hollow ShellThe State and Repressive CultureManatatwam (in Telugu), and Buffalo Nationalism: A Critique of Spiritual Fascism.

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Uttar Pradesh, India: Minor Rape Victim Put Behind Bars


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No country for children

The Supreme Court on Wednesday took suo motu cognisance of media reports about detention of a 10-year-old rape victim by the police in Bulandshahr district of Uttar Pradesh recently.

No country for children - 2

The apex court has now sent notice to the state government, asking how the police put the rape victim in custody.

The callous response of police came to fore after the girl’s rape as she was put behind the bars by women personnel when she approached them to file a complaint along with her mother. The victim was rescued after several hours only after locals protested over the matter.

No country for children - 3

Two women constables have been suspended while two sub-inspectors, including the station-in-charge have been sent to police lines following the incident, SSP Gulab Singh said.

Re-posted from INDIATODAY.in

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Maldives: 15-year-old Girl Raped by Stepfather Flogged for ‘Fornication’


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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Maldives Queen of all islands
Maldives Queen of all islands

Every year, around 700,000 visitors from around the globe visit the Maldives, lured by its pristine beaches. However, this paradise nation has become increasingly conservative in recent years due to influence of more fundamental forms of Islam.

In the summer of 2012, in the remote Feydhoo island in the Maldives, a police investigation after finding the corpse of a baby buried beneath an outdoor shower area outside the home of an unfortunate 15-year-old girl revealed that the teenager gave birth to her stepfather’s baby, which he allegedly killed and buried.

Feydhoo island, Maldives
Feydhoo island, Maldives

The teenager reportedly confessed to the police that apart from her stepfather she had consensual sex with another male. It is unclear whether the police has identified or charged this person. The police have charged the girl’s stepfather for raping her for years and murdering the baby she bore.

On February 25, 2013, a juvenile court in the Maldives, instead of sympathizing with the plight of the 15-year-old girl, has found her guilty of having “sex outside marriage.” The Court sentenced her to spend eight months under house arrest and to receive 100 lashes according to the Sharia Law when she turns 18, unless she requests it earlier.

This incident has triggered widespread worldwide condemnation. 

Under the current laws of the Maldives, pre-marital sex is a crime and those found guilty are often flogged. Flogging as a punishment for this ‘crime’ directly violates international law, which completely prohibits cruel, inhuman or degrading punishments. Yet, flogging remains all too common in the Maldives. In 2009, the courts sentenced over 180 people for flogging for the ‘crime’ of fornication. Almost 90 per cent of them were women.

However, under the international human rights laws and standards, to which the Maldives is a signatory, ‘fornication’ is not a recognised offence and member states must not criminalize or punish young people who engage in consensual sexual activity, or are victims of abuse.

While visiting the country in 2011, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Ms. Navi Pillay called flogging “one of the most inhumane and degrading forms of violence against women” and she requested the Maldives to stop this barbaric practice.

Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director for Human Rights Watch, said: “The girl is already a victim and is traumatized. The authorities should be trying to protect her, not punish her.”

Mohammed Waheed Hassan, President of Maldives
Mohammed Waheed Hassan, President of Maldives

President Mohammed Waheed Hassan of the Maldives is already feeling global pressure. The president’s office has released a statement saying that the girl is a victim to be protected and not punished by the government. A government spokesperson has also said that the Maldives are considering changing the law.

The Amnesty International UK / Blogs says:

If one good thing could come out of this case, it is that the international outrage prompted by this girl’s story and focus on the darker side of life in this seemingly idyllic holiday destination will convince the authorities to end the practice of flogging and decriminalise consensual sexual activity.

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What Is Child Abuse?


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Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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‘Child abuse or maltreatment of a child constitutes all forms of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in real or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power’

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What is child abuse

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Child abuse in the world today exists in a variety of forms, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, neglect and child labour.

One of the earliest recorded instances of child abuse appears in the story of a poor boy named Sopāka in the Buddhist Jataka Tales.

In Sāvatthi, the capital of Kosala kingdom in India, a poor woman while in labour fell into a coma. Her kinsfolk carried her to the cemetery for cremation. A kind spirit loitering there created a windy storm and prevented the fire from burning the woman’s body.

After the people who brought the woman’s body for cremation ran away fearing the storm, the woman gave birth to a boy. The cemetery watchman took the mother and the child under his wings. They called the child Sopāka meaning the “waif” because he was born in the cemetery.

The watchman was very wicked and unkind. He considered the innocent little boy a burden and often beat and scolded him. When Sopāka was seven years old the watchman decided to get rid of the boy.

One evening Sopāka accompanied the watchman to the far end of the cemetery where there were many half-burned rotting corpses. The watchman tied Sopāka to one of the stinking cadavers and returned home leaving the crying boy to the mercy of the nocturnal preying animals.

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The samanera Sopaka being abandoned in the cemetery with a corpse
Sopāka abandoned in the cemetery with a corpse.

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When the watchman returned home Sopāka’s mother asked him: “Where is my son?”

“I don’t know,” the watchman replied. “He came home before me.”

The mother worrying about her son was awake whole night.

Around midnight the jackals came. Sopāka paralyzed with fear started wailing.

The Buddha, sensing Sopāka’s destiny for arahantship (“perfected one”), sent a ray of glory towards him that proclaimed: “Sopāka, don’t cry. Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.”

At that moment, the boy got unbound and found himself standing before the Buddha at the Jetavana monastery. The Buddha bathed him, clothed him, gave him food, consoled and comforted him.

Early next day Sopāka’s mother went to the Buddha seeking help.

“Why are you crying, sister?” asked the Buddha.

“O Lord,” replied the mother, “I have only one son and since last night he is missing.”

“Don’t worry, sister. Your son is safe. Here he is,” the Buddha said and showed her Sopāka.

After listening to the Buddha’s teachings she and her son Sopāka became followers of the Buddha.

The Buddhist scriptures also tell the story of a boy named Mattakundali whose miserly father severely neglects him and deprives him of medical care. Although “Sopāka” and “Mattakundali” are based in ancient India, both stories still resonate today in our modern society irrespective of which country we live in..

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Impact of Armed Conflict on Children


Children at both ends of the gun

Child soldiers are “more obedient, do not question orders and are easier to manipulate than adult soldiers.”

War games in the divided city of Mostar (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Photo: War games in the divided city of Mostar (Bosnia and Herzegovina). The psychosocial effects of armed conflict on children can be devastating and may haunt them through life, says the Machel report, particularly when children are attacked by those they have considered neighbours and friends, as happened in Rwanda and former Yugoslavia. ©

The exploitation of children in the ranks of the world’s armies must end, says a new United Nations report. “One of the most alarming trends in armed conflict is the participation of children as soldiers,” declares the report, by Graça Machel, the Secretary-General’s Expert on the Impact of Armed Conflict on Children.

The report says the use of child soldiers is a problem created by adults, to be eradicated by adults. It calls for a global campaign to demobilize all child soldiers and to “eradicate the use of children under the age of 18 years in the armed forces.” The report further calls upon governments to renounce the practice of forced recruitment, which has put increasing numbers of children under arms against their will.

“Children are dropping out of childhood,” commented Devaki Jain of India, one of Ms. Machel’s Eminent Persons’ Group of advisers. “We must envision a society free of conflict where children can grow up as children, not weapons of war.”

The use of child soldiers is hardly new. “Children serve armies in supporting roles as cooks, porters, messengers and spies,” the report notes. “Increasingly, however, adults are conscripting children as soldiers deliberately.” Children under 15 years of age are known to be serving in government or opposition forces in at least 25 conflict zones and it is estimated that some 200,000 child soldiers under 16 years of age saw armed combat in 1988. Generally, however, child soldiers are statistically invisible as governments and armed opposition groups deny or downplay their role.

The 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child defines childhood as below the age of 18 years, although it currently recognizes 15 as the minimum age for voluntary or compulsory recruitment into the armed forces. However, momentum is building for an Optional Protocol to the Convention that would raise the minimum age to 18.

With new weapons that are lightweight and easy to fire, children are more easily armed, with less training than ever before. Moreover, as was stated in one background paper prepared for the Machel report, child soldiers are “more obedient, do not question orders and are easier to manipulate than adult soldiers.” And they usually don’t demand pay.

A series of 24 case-studies on child soldiers, covering conflicts over the past 30 years, makes it clear that tens of thousands of children — many under the age of 10 — have been recruited into armies around the world. In Liberia, children as young as seven have been found in combat, while in Cambodia, a survey of wounded soldiers found that 20 per cent of them were between the ages of 10 and 14 when recruited. In Sri Lanka, of 180 Tamil Tiger guerrillas killed in one government attack, more than half were still in their teens, and 128 were girls. Solid statistics are hard to come by, however, as most armies and militia do not want to admit to their use of child soldiers.

According to the report, children are often press-ganged from their own neighbourhoods where local militia or village leaders may be obliged to meet recruitment quotas. In the Sudan, children as young as 12 have been rounded up from buses and cars. In Guatemala, youngsters have been grabbed from streets, homes, parties, and even violently removed from churches. In the 1980s, the Ethiopian military practised a ‘vacuum cleaner’ approach, recruiting boys, sometimes at gunpoint, from football fields, markets, religious festivals or on the way to school.

The report deplores the fact that children are often deliberately brutalized in order to harden them into more ruthless soldiers. In some conflicts, children have been forced to commit atrocities against their own families. In Sierra Leone, for example, the Revolutionary United Front forced captured children to take part in the torture and execution of their own relatives, after which they were led to neighbouring villages to repeat the slaughter. Elsewhere, before battle young soldiers have been given amphetamines, tranquillizers and other drugs to “increase their courage” and to dull their sensitivity to pain.

Some children become soldiers simply to survive. In war-ravaged lands where schools have been closed, fields destroyed, and relatives arrested or killed, a gun is a meal ticket and a more attractive alternative to sitting home alone and afraid. Sometimes a minor soldier’s pay is given directly to the family.

For girls, recruitment may lead to sex slavery. The report notes that in Uganda, for instance, young girls abducted by rebel forces were commonly divided up and allocated to soldiers to serve as their ‘wives’. A case-study from Honduras, prepared for the Machel report, illustrates one child’s experience of joining armed groups:

“At the age of 13, I joined the student movement. I had a dream to contribute to make things change, so that children would not be hungry … later I joined the armed struggle. I had all the inexperience and fears of a little girl. I found out that girls were obliged to have sexual relations ‘to alleviate the sadness of the combatants. And who alleviated our sadness after going with someone we hardly knew? At my young age I experienced abortion … In spite of my commitment, they abused me, they trampled my human dignity. And above all, they did not understand that I was a child and that I had rights.”

It is difficult to reintegrate demobilized children after a peace settlement is reached. Many have been physically or sexually abused by the very forces for which they have been fighting, and have seen their parents killed, sometimes in the most brutal manner, in front of their eyes. Most have also been led into participating in murder, rape and other atrocities. These children have no skills for life in peacetime and they are accustomed to getting their way through violence.

The report urges that all future peace agreements include specific measures pertaining to the demobilization and reintegration of child soldiers, ranging from job creation and the rebuilding of schools, to the training of teachers who are sensitive to the special needs of child victims of war.

The report calls on governments to regularize recruitment procedures for their armed forces and to prosecute violators to ensure that under-age recruitment does not occur. The Machel report also illustrates how the recruitment of children can at least be minimized when parents and communities are better informed about existing national and international law.

While much remains to be done, there have been some successes. In Peru, for example, forced recruitment drives reportedly declined in areas where they were denounced by parish churches. And in Myanmar, protests from aid agencies led to the release of boys forcibly recruited from a refugee camp. In the Sudan, humanitarian organizations have negotiated agreements with opposition groups to prevent the recruitment of children.

Source: UNICEF

UNICEF campaign for the disarmament of (female) child soldiers in Sri Lanka
A billboard campaign in Sri Lanka highlighting the plight of girl child soldiers. (Photo: Rebecca Murray/IRIN)

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Saudi Preacher Who Raped and Tortured Daughter to Death Spared After Paying “Blood Money”


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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According to Islāmic laws a father cannot be executed for murdering his children, nor can husbands be executed for murdering their wives.

A Saudi money exchanger counts Saudi riyals in Riyadh
Blood Money

Fayhan al-Ghamdii, raped his five-year-old daughter Lamia al-Ghamdi for a prolonged period and tortured her. The little girl admitted to a hospital on December 25, 2011 with multiple injuries, including a crushed skull, broken ribs and extensive bruises and burns eventually died after ten months on October 22, 2012.

The authorities imprisoned Fayhan al-Ghamdii, a Saudi Islāmic preacher and a regular guest on Muslim television networks. He confessed to this monstrosity of having used cables and a cane to inflict the injuries, the activists from the group “Women to Drive,” said in a statement.

However, he was in prison just for a few months. In a cruel twist of Islāmic justice, the judge ruled the prosecution could only seek “blood money (compensation for the next of kin under Islāmic law),” and the time the defendant had served in prison since the little girl’s death suffices as punishment. According to Islāmic laws a father cannot be executed for murdering his children, nor can husbands be executed for murdering their wives.

The authorities released Fayan after he paid about $48,000 as “blood money.”

A few years ago, some clerics in a mosque took this monster Fayhan al-Ghamdii, a drug addict, under their wing. They even helped pay for his marriage with Sayeda Hamadari. After a while, unable to cope with his cruelty and violence his wife asked for divorce. Sayeda agreed to allow her estranged husband to see their daughter could periodically.

During one of the daughter’s visits, Fayan requested the mother to allow him to keep their daughter for a fortnight because he wanted her to become used to his ‘presence in her life.’. The mother consented. During those two weeks, Fayan subjected the five-year-old girl to all types of cruelty and torture including beating and blows to her head that resulted in multiple fractures, mutilation, and even cauterized her. The little girl’s mother said that hospital staff told her that the “child’s rectum had been torn open, and the abuser had attempted to burn (cauterize) it closed.”

When asked why he had tortured his daughter to death, the sick minded father said he suspected the conduct of his daughter and doubted her virginity.

Sayeda Hamadari, the girl’s mother, now divorced from the cleric wanted her former husband’s death. “I want him killed. I want the full Islāmic punishment. This is God’s law,” she said.

Members of the Saudi Arabia’s Royal Family are now believed to have blocked Fayhan al-Ghamdii’s release after the case attracted international attention, and have promised to uphold a stronger sentence.

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Missing Children Bureau Is Missing


 

Pramila Krishnan By Pramila Krishnan

 Published on Saturday, Feb 16, 2013 in Deccan Chronicle

Chennai: The missing children bureau, started in Tamil Nadu in 2001 under the Tamil Nadu social defence department to trace children, is missing for the last four years. The bureau’s web portal has not been updated since 2007 and there was no information about whether the 200-odd children registered on the site as missing were restored to the families or not.

Take this case: M. Kart­h­ik Kannan, age 11, height 3.5 metres; missing date: 28/12/2002. Place: Coimba­tore. Identification marks: Fair looking boy, a scar on the right elbow and protruding teeth. His photo and details were registered on the website but the site has no details about whether he was traced or not. Like him, over 10,500 children went missing in Tamil Nadu in the last five years, according to the national crime records bureau. Child rights acti­vists question the absence of the bureau.

Jebaraj of NGO JustTr­ust, which works against child trafficking, said, “Several missing children are trafficked and forced into bonded labour, sexual exploitation and begging. When the MCB itself is missing, it shows the lack of love and commitment to work for the rights of children in our state.”

Requesting anonymity, a senior officer who worked in the department said, “The bureau stopped functioning long ago. The photos of children reported by the parents with the police as missing were uploaded on the website. But no big measure was taken to reunite the children with their families.”

The officer said now the department is considering to post a nodal officer to regulate the bureau. Social defence department director N. Mathivanan told DC that the bureau was closed and a new project, ‘Track the child’, would soon be implemented.

Re-posted from Deccan Chronicle

News: A 9-year-old Girl Gives Birth in Mexico; Teenage Father Absconding


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

New born baby
A new born baby (not the baby mentioned in the story).

On January 27, 2013, a nine-year-old girl gave birth to a 5.95 pounds (2.7 Kilograms) baby girl in Zoquipan Hospital, in Zapopan, Mexico’s western Jalisco state.

The hospital where the girl gave birth to her child
The hospital where the girl gave birth to her child (Photo: AFP)

The girl identified by The Telegraph as “Dafne” lives with her parents and 10 siblings in Ixtlahuacan de los Membrillos, a poverty-stricken neighborhood 25 miles south of Guadalajara.

Lino Ginzalez Corona, a spokesperson at Jalisco State Prosecutor’s office who spoke to the 9-year-old girl said in a press conference that the young mother describes a loving relationship as the cause of her pregnancy. However, the authorities doubt the girl’s story and are looking into a possibility of rape or child sex.

According to Agence France-Presse, the girl’s mother told the authorities that an absconding 17-year old boy made her daughter pregnant. The teenager could face a number of charges depending on how the authorities classify the case – as rape, child sexual abuse, or corruption of a minor once the authorities arrest him and prove his paternity.

The mother of the little girl, treated last week for a full-term pregnancy, lodged a complaint with the Human Rights Commission of Jalisco (CEDHJ) that the doctors had applied an intrauterine device (IUD) on her daughter.

An intrauterine device is the most widely used form of reversible contraception where a small ‘T’-shaped device containing either copper or progesterone is inserted into the uterus.

Dr. Enrique Solorio Rabago, director of Zoquipan Hospital
Dr. Enrique Solorio Rabago, director of Zoquipan Hospital (Photo: AFP)

Dr. Enrique Solorio Rabago, the CEO of Zoquipan Hospital denied the allegation. He said, “The little girl when admitted had contractions and their medical team assessed her condition. Due to her young age and to the fact that her body was not ready to give birth, the medical team decided a C-Section was the best option for both mother and child.”

In an interview with MILLENNIUM Rabago said: “An apparently healthy infant was born. We deny that there is an intrauterine device.”

He added that he was in contact with CEDHJ; and has submitted all documentation with the signatures of the mother authorizing the various medical procedures performed on her daughter.

In recent times, only a few births among children this young have come to light including a 10-year-old Colombian girl who gave birth last year, and a 9-year-old Chinese girl who gave birth to a healthy baby boy in 2010.

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