Story By: Ana Marjanovic, Sub-Editor: Michael Leidig, Agency: Newsflash
Brazilian officials responded to widespread protests over a judge who banned an 11-year-old girl rape victim from having an abortion by promoting her.
Judge Joana Ribeiro Zimmer was given a promotion after the Court of Justice decided that she was “especially deserving” of a promotion.
But it denied that it had taken into consideration her ruling over the 11-year-old girl, who is being kept in sheltered accommodation to prevent her having an abortion.
The judge’s new role will involve transfer to the district of Brusque, and she also claimed that she was offered the job before the controversy about the abortion ruling.
The ruling caused outrage in the country and prompted a suggestion from justice officials that they were going to investigate Ribeiro Zimmer, but now it has been revealed that she has been promoted instead.
The pregnant child victim, who has not been named, was raped earlier this year, and after it was determined that she was pregnant, she was taken to a hospital in Florianopolis, the capital of southern Brazil’s Santa Catarina state.
There are no other details regarding the rape other than that it reportedly took place in the family home.
The girl, accompanied by her mother, was seen by a doctor, who has been named as Prof. Polydoro Ernani de Sao Thiago, who is affiliated with the University of Santa Catarina.
But the medic allegedly refused to perform an abortion on her after determining that she was over 22 weeks pregnant, with the hospital’s in-house rules stating that they could only perform an abortion on someone up to 20 weeks pregnant and that they needed a court order.
The case was referred to the judge, who reportedly refused to grant the 11-year-old rape victim permission to have the abortion.
She reportedly said that if she had granted the girl an abortion, she would not have been “protecting the daughter” and would instead have been “subjecting her to a homicide”.
The girl was reportedly kept in a shelter for women to protect her from her aggressor, with her distraught mother, unnamed, reportedly saying that if she had not been taken to the shelter, she would have performed the abortion on her daughter herself.
While abortion is largely illegal in Brazil – with pregnant women who have abortions risking one to three years in prison and doctors who perform them risking up to four years behind bars – they are legal when the victim was raped and when the pregnancy poses a risk to the mother.
The case attracted widespread criticism in the largely Catholic country, with experts quoted in local media as saying that there is no legal basis for the situation, neither regarding the stance that the hospital adopted, nor for the judge’s decision.
The court said in a statement that it had “initiated a request for measures in the administrative sphere for the proper investigation of the facts”.
The Ipas organisation, which campaigns for abortion rights in Brazil, says: “Because Brazilian law only permits abortion in cases of rape, foetal anencephaly, or risk to life, in 2012 the country’s Ministry of Health reported only 1,626 legal abortions in a nation with 203 million people.
“However, an estimated one million Brazilian women have abortions every year. Many of those women, particularly those without the financial or social resources to see a well-trained, willing provider, run a huge legal risk when they decide to end an unwanted pregnancy.
“The physical consequences can also be devastating.”
The case is ongoing.
Last week, the premature baby of a 12-year-old Bolivian girl who was allegedly raped by her grandfather died after the girl was denied an abortion.
Under Bolivian law, abortion is legal for rape and incest victims, but the procedure can only be undertaken up to the 22nd week of pregnancy.
The pregnant girl had begged to be allowed to terminate the shocking pregnancy, but she had been told she was too late.