Girls aged TEN having babies


Guatemala has one of the world's highest teen pregnancy rates as more than 5,100 girls under 14 had babies in 2014. Rape and sexual abuse is common with 30 per cent of babies born to teenagers fathered by the girls' own fathers. Many pregnant girls don't understand sex and often crime not recognized because men see girls as their property. Despite laws introduced to curb teen rape, just eight people were convicted of sex crime following births in 2012.

But this is Guatemala, a country where nearly a quarter of all babies are born to teenage mothers. Some haven't even reached their milestone 13th birthday - in 2011, 35 new mothers were just 10 years old.

In some ways, the numbers are the less shocking aspect of this epidemic, which puts both the mothers and their children in mortal danger.

Nearly all teenage births, 90 per cent, involve a relative, an uncle or cousin - a horrifying 30 per cent of children are born as a result of the girls' own father. 

Gloria is just 13, and became pregnant by a 22-year-old nightclub DJ. Gloria doesn't feel like she was raped - but she barely seems to know how it happened. In Guatemala, the church holds a lot of sway and it blocks attempts at sex education. The result is played out in the numbers - last year some 5,100 girls under 14 became pregnant, up from 4,354 in 2013.

Gloria's baby came prematurely - or so she thinks. She didn't know when her last period was before she got pregnant. Poignantly, she is not allowed to accompany her boyfriend to work, because it is past her bedtime.

Over the course of repeated trips during a two year period, they told her their stories as she worked:  a girl who was tied to a tree while a 53-year-old man raped her, a girl who was sold to her husband, 22, aged 12, a girl so young she didn't know she could get pregnant when a 28-year-old began bringing her gifts.

In 2014, there were 5,100 babies born to teen mothers under the age of 14, up from 4,354 the year before.

The government is attempting to crack down on the epidemic, however: this week a new law was passed, increasing the legal age for marriage to 18. Previously, it had been just 14.

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