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Forced to give birth after rape, Honduran woman seeks UN remedy

Published : Saturday, 18 May, 2024 at 12:00 AM  Count : 879

TEGUCIGALPA, May 17: On a November day in 2015, Fausia went to fetch water from a river near her home in rural Honduras. She was attacked by two men who beat and kicked her and put a knife to her throat.

One of the men raped her, and Fausia -- who does not want to give her real name for fear of reprisal -- got pregnant.

Eight years later, the 34-year-old reported her country to the United Nations for denying her an abortion, effectively forcing her to give birth to a child she did not want.

Honduras is one of six Latin American countries with an absolute abortion ban.

According to the Center for Reproductive Rights (CDR), an NGO supporting Fausias case, this has meant forced motherhood for countless women and girls -- many of them sexual assault survivors.

In March, Fausia brought a case before the UN Human Rights Committee, seeking an order mandating the Honduran state to lift the ban written into its constitution.

The daughter of a Nahua chieftain and land rights activist, Fausia said she was attacked in "reprisal" by two men whose family had usurped her fathers land and were locked in a years-long dispute with him.

"They threatened me with death, they told me that if I went to... report it or to file a complaint with the police, they were going to kill me. They were going to kill my family," she told AFP in the garden of the Womens Rights Center, an NGO that goes by its Spanish abbreviation CDM, in Tegucigalpa.

A month after the rape, Fausia said, she overcame her fear and reported the incident to the authorities -- the start of a painfully long legal journey.

When she learned her rapist had made her pregnant, it felt like her world fell apart.

It was, she said, "a psychological and emotional shock... It was something I didn want, that I hadn planned."
But when she sought help, Fausia said, she was warned she would be prosecuted if she attempted to abort the fetus, risking up to 10 years in prison.

"I cried in the delivery room. Then they forced me to feed her and kiss her (the baby) and I didn want to," she recounted.
"If I had had the opportunity to end it (the pregnancy), I would have done it, because it is something that turned my life upside down. It is an indelible mark," said Fausia.

She refuses to speak about what happened to the child. Along with El Salvador, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Suriname, Honduras disallows abortion even in cases of rape, fetal malformation or risk to the womans life.

The morning-after pill was banned in Honduras until last year, and thus not available to Fausia, who already had two children when she was attacked.    —AFP






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