On February 6, news was released that a nine-year-old girl identified as “Dafne” had given birth to a baby in Mexico a month previously. She had apparently been eight when she was impregnated and according to the original reports, the father of the child was Dafne’s 17-year-old boyfriend who fled and couldn’t be found. This situation is all kinds of wrong and zero kinds of right. I know it. You know it. Let’s move on.
Now we’ve learned that although Dafne’s mother claimed she was nine when she was in labor, Dafne is probably really about 12- or 13-years-old. Some reports say that Dafne’s mother is a prostitute and could have been lying about Dafne’s age so that Dafne could be whored out (younger prostitutes make more money). There is not a reliable birth certificate on file for Dafne, as the one in her possession right now was generated about a year ago for school applications. Dafne could be over the minimum age of consent in Mexico if she is 12.
These new details might make the story a little better if you believe that Dafne being three or four years older makes her case less traumatizing, but I don’t think that helps. Whether the girl was five or 15, she’s a child, and becoming a mother and responsible for another human being before being able to try out being an adult responsible for herself isn’t a good thing for her or her child. And still, do we know any 17-year-old boys who are interested in dating 13-year-olds? If I remember correctly from high school, the senior boys were rarely interested in talking to the freshman girls, never mind middle school girls! So even if the baby daddy was the 17-year-old boyfriend, the story is still fishy.
As I predicted, genetic paternity tests show that Dafne’s 44-year-old stepfather is the baby’s father. Disgusting. It doesn’t matter how old Dafne is; this is terrible. Parental figures should make a child feel SAFE. Not PREGNANT. Again, we all know that this situation is all kinds of wrong and my rants can be held back.
But it continues to get worse.
Some of the reports state that Dafne was sterilized by her doctors after giving birth. I personally wouldn’t mind being sterilized, but I’m in my late 20s and am 99.9% sure that I never want to reproduce. I’ve always felt that way, but the way I felt when I was 12 was certainly not a reliable indicator of how I feel now. And even though I don’t want kids and can’t imagine ever wanting my own, I would NOT want anyone making that decision for me. Of course, I’m from the “my body, my choice” school of thought, but I’m pretty sure most people with a soul would agree that Dafne should not have been sterilized unless there was a serious medical condition that could only be fixed by sterilization. My guess? This was not a medically necessary procedure.
Where do we go from here? News about an extremely young mother seems to happen once a year, but the media focuses on the juicy details of how old the girl is and sheds less light on what happens to the father/rapist. Are we saying that these boys or men just deserve a slap on the wrist for traumatizing girls and changing their lives forever by creating a reminder of one of the worst things that could ever happen to a girl? We probably won’t hear more about the story now that we know who the rapist/father is. We won’t hear about his punishment. We probably won’t even hear about Dafne ever again. And why isn’t the detail of Dafne’s sterilization and the wrongs of the doctors being shared openly? Are these doctors not being prosecuted for their decision to change Dafne’s life trajectory even more than it already had been? Is it really cool for doctors to just sterilize people willy nilly in Mexico? I would like to think that it’s not, but the lack of coverage on this part of the story scares me.
The hushed whispering about how sad it is that this poor girl was raped and impregnated needs to turn into an open discussion. These tragedies are terrible, and it only becomes worse if we gossip and don’t seek ways to make changes in culture, laws, and personal standards to prevent similar events from happening in the future. There are no heroes in this story yet. There are almost never heroes in these stories. Until we can all step away from the gossip, think about the situation, and consider possible solutions, the stories will continue to sound like Dafne’s. Maybe we’re too removed from the places where this is happening, but if we talk about it, there’s a chance our voices will eventually be heard and these girls can be protected.
Lauren Bonvini is a single, childless (unless you count her horse and cat) women’s college alumna and New Englander turned Seattleite. Though her professional interests have always been on the math and science side, she’s recently started blogging in the little spare time she has to take a break from numbers, outdoor adventures, and awkward online dates.