Digna: The right for women to interrupt pregnancy
resulting from rape

Magnitude of the problem

By 2002, 150 million children and teenagers in the world had experienced coerced intercourse or other sexual violence, and a third of teenagers had initiated sex life forcibly (United Nations 2006)

Between 8 and 27% of the women and girls reported having been raped (Researching Violence Against Women 2005)

6 out of 10 women around the world experience physical or sexual violence during their lifetime (UNIFEM 2009) http://www.unifem.org/gender_issues/violence_against_women/

Partner rape varies between 5% and 47% (Violencia sexual en las Américas y el Caribe análisis de datos secundarios, 2010)

Between 8% and 27% of the women reports to have suffered non-partners sexual violence (Researching Violence Against Women 2005)

Surveys carried out in different countries of Latin America, using samples based on schools, have found that between 5% and 40% of the teenagers tells having been sexually abused at any stage of their lifetime (¡Ni una más! El derecho a vivir una vida libre de violencia en América Latina y el Caribe, 2007)

Studies agree that between 10 to 15% of women that are raped become pregnant. Regarding the decision of continuing the pregnancy, 50% decided to interrupt it (Investigaciones e Intervenciones Sobre Violencia Sexual Desarrolladas En América Latina y el Caribe, 2011 - El Acceso al Aborto Legal de las Mujeres Embarazadas por Violación en la Ciudad de México, 2003)

Vulnerable groups

Rape has deeper implications when dealing with:

- Girls, boys and teenagers
- Migrant women
- Women, girls and teenagers in institutional spaces
- Women and girls in armed conflict or post conflict contexts
- Women in situations of imprisonment

Aspects that increase the risk of sexual violence: living in marginalized contexts, harsh conditions like orphanhood or living in the street and poverty (Violencia sexual en las Américas y el Caribe análisis de datos secundarios, 2010)

Sexual Violence

20% of the women who sought attention due to rape at a medical center in Haiti became pregnant (Amnistía internacional 2008)

In Costa Rica and Peru it was identified that 90% of pregnancies in children under 15 were the result of incest (Abuso Sexual Infantil y Explotación Sexual Comercial Infantil en América Latina y el Caribe, 2006)

In Mexico, studies revealed that between 7% and 26% of rape victims become pregnant (Violencia sexual en México, 2006)

Only 5% of the victims denounce, because of multiple reasons: shame, fear, fear of reprisals, guilt, difficulties to face the denunciation process (Violencia sexual en las Américas y el Caribe análisis de datos secundarios, 2010).

Women who denounce face multiple difficulties (Violencia sexual en las Américas y el Caribe análisis de datos secundarios, 2010)

Despite the magnitude of the figures mentioned, experts agree that the official numbers represent only a fraction of cases that remain unreported

Hidden Burden

Given the magnitude of the problem of rape and forced pregnancy, it is worth understanding the hidden ways in which they affect life and health. Rape and forced pregnancy generate hidden burdens that affect the lives and health of women.

Hidden burden is defined as those effects not always understood by healthcare services or systems, which are consequence of rape and generate costs in multiple levels.

Women who have been sexual violence victims:

Are 9 times more likely to attempt suicide and twice times more likely to major depression.

Experience high rates of persistent posttraumatic stress.

Face double humiliation: being raped and being forced to have the child product of rape in countries where there is no access to legal abortion services.

They have low self-esteem and loss of confidence.

Sexual violence has been associated with many problems of sexual and reproductive health such as STI, HIV infection, unplanned pregnancies and sexual dysfunction, among others.

Definition of “In Case of Rape”

One of the consequences of sexual violence is unwanted pregnancy.

Causal Rape (CR) is the existence of a framework that provides dual protection: integral post rape care and guaranteeing women access to voluntary termination of pregnancy (VTP).

Causal Rape (CR): it encourages health and justice sectors (including other authorities and administrative agencies) to allocate collective resources for defending women’s rights and that hindering or interference with its accomplishment concerning legal and safe abortion is forbidden.

There are different legal models to treat abortion in case of rape in Latin America and the Caribbean (see power point).

Violence against women - especially sexual violence - represents a serious public health problem and a violation of women’s human rights.

Sexual violence is understood as "every sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, unwanted comments or sexual innuendo, or actions made to commercialize or any other usage of someone’s sexuality coerced by another person, regardless of the relationship of this and the victim, in any ambit, including home and workplace".

What we should know
regarding unwanted pregnancy
product of rape

Any woman can be a victim of rape.

All cases of sexual violence are a medical emergency and must be treated in priority. It is unacceptable to interpose access barriers preventing sexual violence victims from being attended at emergency services.

There are more vulnerable conditions.

The consequences of rape in terms of physical and mental health.

The impact of unwanted pregnancy caused by rape in the life and dignity of a woman.


Is a network of activists, researchers, professional health services suppliers that contributes with the reduction of unsafe abortion in Latin America. Promotes access to information and modern and secure technologies fully respecting sexual and reproductive rights from a gender and equity perspective.


La Mesa por la Vida y la Salud de las Mujeres

It is a collective of organizations and individuals that from its knowledge and experience work for women sexual and reproductive rights, particularly those related to the free choice of maternity, the free exercise of sexuality and total decriminalization of abortion.