After a 13-year-old girl in Venezuela was raped and became pregnant, her former teacher helped her get an illegal abortion. Now, the teacher faces over a decade in prison, while the accused rapist is free.
“Every day I pray to God that she is released, that there is justice and that they lock him up,” the girl told The New York Times.
In Venezuela, the case, made public in local and international press earlier this year, has become a point of outrage for women’s rights activists, who say it demonstrates the way the country’s economic and humanitarian crisis has stripped away protections for young women and girls. (The Times is not identifying the girl because she is a minor.)
The country’s decline, presided over by President Nicolás Maduro and exacerbated by U.S. sanctions, has crippled schools, shuttered community programs, sent millions of parents abroad and eviscerated the justice system, leaving many vulnerable to violent actors who flourish amid impunity. But the girl’s assault, and the arrest of her teacher, Vannesa Rosales, has also become a rallying cry for activists who say it is time for Venezuela to have a serious discussion about further legalizing abortion, an issue that, they argue, is now more important than ever.
The crisis has curtailed access to birth control, gutted maternity wards and created widespread hunger, often trapping women between the functions of their bodies and the cruelties of a crumbling state, denying millions the ability to control their lives. Tap the link in our bio to read more about how the case has become a rallying point for women’s rights activists. @meridithkohut took these photos of the girl being held by her mother, women waiting to receive contraceptive implants at a clinic, and a university student in Caracas who decided to end her pregnancy by taking black market abortion pills without medical supervision.