By Yaneth Estrada
Various sectors in El Salvador have expressed concern about the increase in underage pregnancies during this quarantine.
Roxana Rodríguez from the organization of Professionals for the Transformation of El Salvador PROES stated that “there is an increase in pregnancies in girls 10 a 14 years in a 79.16% and in 71.6% in adolescents of 15 a 19 years in three months, according to the Ministry of Health of El Salvador MINSAL”.
According to statistics from the National Hospital for Women, from April to June there is an increase of 114 registration of pregnancies of girls between 10 Y 14 years and 2,746 teen pregnancy registrations 15 a 19 years in health centers nationwide.
The economist and feminist leader stressed that “for me that increase in the data of pregnancies of girls and adolescents in the months of April, May and June, which are the months of mandatory quarantine where girls and adolescents have not left their homes to go to school or to another activity, shows that girls and adolescents are being victims of sexual violence, of abuse and rape in your home, are being subjected to forced pregnancies as a result of this sexual violence”.
According to the Online Morbidity System (SIMMOW), the National Network of Health Services (MINSAL), in the period from January to June 2020, El Salvador registered 250 pregnant girls 10 a 14 years. While in ages 15 a 19 years it was had 6,581 pregnancies.
Confinement and sexual assaults
For Rodriguez, mandatory confinement in addition to not serving to combat the virus, because the virus is not fought by hiding from it, has forced girls, adolescents and women to remain with their abusers in their homes, which are not the safest places. This is not new, we already knew it, but it increases because confinement was decreed without taking into account these gender variables, making girls more vulnerable, teenagers and women.
Prolonged confinement without alternatives causes these and other expressions of domestic violence to increase. Explained that “when I talk about living with abusers, I don't mean just the man in the father figure, husband or partner, there are also brothers in the homes, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and even the close neighbor may be exercising this type of sexual violence and abuse towards girls and adolescents”.
“This is a huge setback at the country level as a result of the mismanagement of the pandemic by the Government, especially if we take into account that in these data reported by the MINSAL of the total registration of pregnancies during the first and second trimesters of 2020 there is a subregister, because there are girls and adolescents who surely have not reported their pregnancies as a result of the same confinement conditions and to avoid questions from the authorities”, Rodriguez said.
In this sense, Mario Soriano, Coordinator of the Adolescent Care Unit of the Ministry of Health, in the framework of the COVID-19 pandemic confirmed that “cases of sexual assault and pregnancy have continued to rise in the months of the pandemic”, although this is not shown in the statistics because currently the priority is to attend to cases of COVID-19.
To Gloria Cruz from the Association of Salvadoran Community Promoters (APRO AL) there is also a setback in the area of sexual and reproductive rights, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Likewise, the National Health Forum, considered the collapse of the health system and revealed that many women did not attend their check-ups, coupled with home confinement that also created more abuses against women.