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ARGENTINA | 14-01-2022 17:24

Horror in Tucumán: 10-year-old girl gives birth following rape

Young girl had been sexually abused by her foster mother's partner; Accused has been on the run since last October.

A 10-year-old girl, a victim of sexual abuse, was obliged to give birth at the Instituto de Maternidad y Ginecología Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes in Tucumán last Monday. 

Police in the northern province are looking for the suspect who is accused of raping her, Carlos Alberto Merlos, who has been on the run since last year.

According to reports in multiple local outlets, the girl was not in the care of her biological mother but instead lived with her neighbour and her then-partner, the aforenamed suspect. Born together with a twin brother a decade ago, the young girl was cared for by the neighbour, a lawyer for the family said this week, adding that the girl’s birth mother at the time felt she could only care for a single child. 

Merlos, 58, the now former partner of the foster-mother, reportedly violated the youngster on more than one occasion, according to the family, with the girl falling pregnant as a result.

Her carer only denounced the accused in late October, when the rape victim was seven years pregnant and that same day, Merlos fled the house, selling a property and going on the run with an accomplice.

Reports this week said that the girl’s biological mother only found out about the situation in the same month. She has also denounced the accused before the authorities but has asked them that the 10-year-old not be sent home, once she is released from hospital. 

According to Patricio Char, a lawyer representing the girl’s biological mother, she feels the neighbour is an accomplice to the crime.

“The woman who was bringing her up must have realised what was going on before she entered the seventh month of pregnancy,” he told the TN news channel this week.

“We’re facing a desperate plea from the biological family of the little girl, who clearly has been abused,” Char told reporters.

The lawyer explained that “the biological mother had twins and had to devote 100 percent of her time to the boy for health reasons, sending the girl away to a neighbour to be foster-mother. In those surroundings the child was the victim of abuse.”

For now, the young girl remains with her newborn in the Neonatology Ward of the Tucumán Health Centre. Char said a judicial debate is now opening over what will be the fate of the child born of the rape, identified only as “A” for now, once the doctors release the raped girl.

Local press outlets in Tucumán informed that there was compliance with the ILE abortion protocol but due to the advanced pregnancy, the baby was born alive.

“That’s wrong, it shouldn’t have happened if the protocol had been activated,” feminist lawyer Soledad Deza, the founder of Mujeres x Mujeres group told Página/12.

Tucumán is one of several northern provinces where terminations are actively discouraged by government officials, despite the passage of last year’s abortion law.

As far as the fugitive is concerned, the prosecutor in charge of the case, Carlos Sale, has labelled the case as “aggravated sexual abuse” and requested a national and international arrest warrant for Merlos, who remains a fugitive from justice.

 

– TIMES/AFP/NA

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