Mexican women’s activists call for Cancun boycott

MEXICO CITY (AP)—Women’s rights activists called on tourists May 6 to boycott the Caribbean resort city of Cancun, saying authorities there failed to protect the rights of an 11-year-old rape victim who is carrying the baby to term. Activists say the case of the girl, known only as “Amalia,” illustrates the lack of protection for women’s rights in the state of Quintana Roo, which recently passed a law banning most elective abortions.

PROTEST—A woman holds a banner that reads in Spanish: “Sexual Education in Order to Decide,” during a demonstration organized by women’s rights activists in Mexico City, May 6.

The girl, 10 years old at the time, told authorities she was raped by her stepfather, and activists say a doctor at a government hospital failed to inform her that the new law allows for rape victims to have abortions. The child is reportedly carrying the baby to term and will give birth by cesarean section.

Officials in Quintana Roo did not respond to requests for comment.

Local media reported that the girl’s mother would not have approved of an abortion even if she had known about the exception for rape victims, but activists said she may have been influenced by right-to-life groups that backed the new law. In recent months, over half of Mexico’s 31 states have passed anti-abortion measures.

Quintana Roo has been rocked by sexual-abuse cases in the past, and activists say child rape and teen pregnancy rates are exceptionally high there.

Members of reproductive rights groups held a demonstration May 6 to announce an online campaign in English, Spanish and French asking tourists to stay away from Cancun.

“We are going to tell them not to visit Cancun because in Quintana Roo state they violate the rights of women and children,” said Maria Eugenia Romero of the Network for Sexual and Reproductive Rights. “We are going to tell them they would be better off choosing some other tourist destination.”

In 1999, a 13-year-old rape victim in Baja California state became a cause celebre after medical authorities refused to give her the abortion she was entitled to by law. She later gave birth to the child. The girl, Paulina Ramirez, brought her case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in 2002, drawing international attention and sparking a high-profile campaign seeking reparations from the Mexican government.

The government later agreed to pay more than $33,000 to Ramirez, who has publicly identified herself as the victim in the case. Activists are seeking a similar agreement in the case of Amalia.


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