Know that when you read the next sentence, nothing is wrong with your eyes and there is no typo here. A 10-year-old Colombian girl gave birth to a healthy baby girl on Good Friday, making her one of the youngest known mothers in the world.
Yes. The little girl who had a baby is 10. TEN.
The unnamed girl from Manaure, a town in the Colombian Department of La Guajira, arrived at the hospital in tears and “enormous pain” from the contractions, according to Univision’s Primer Impacto. She’s said to have delivered her 5 lb.-daughter by cesarean section.
The child is a member of the Wayuu people, an indigenous tribe in northern Colombia. Though the birth has been a hot topic of debate in Colombia, the tribe has been tight-lipped about how a 10-year-old child got pregnant and who and how old the father is. What’s worse: police can’t press charges because the tribe has its own jurisdiction.
Efrain Pacheco Casadiego, director of the hospital where the girl gave birth, says the 10-year-old isn’t the first young Wayuu girl to give birth. “We’ve already seen several cases [of pregnancy] in girls of the Wayuu ethnicity,” Casadiego told RCN La Radio noticias. “When in fact [the girls] should be playing with dolls, they are having to care for a baby. This is shocking.”
Now, I respect other peoples’ culture and customs—maybe a bit more than a lot of other Americans, who tend to think our country/customs/religion/laws/government/citizens/God/way of life is so much better than everyone else’s. Consider what happens when we travel around the world, expecting everything to be just like it is in the good ol’ U.S. of A and giving folk the business if it’s not. Ew, they eat food with their hands! Like, seriously, who naps in the middle of the work day? What do you mean they don’t sell deodorant in the grocery store? Why is everyone driving on the wrong side of the road? Speak English—jeez! We get judged harshly for such ridiculousness—and rightly so. Hell, it’s offensive to me when I see Americans acting the fool in foreign countries, and I’m as American as they come.
But here is a case where I’m willing to shun customs and a culture that would embrace any kind of situation where a 10-year-old child is having a newborn pulled from her loins. I am, after all, the mother of a child who is just a few weeks short of her 10th birthday, and the idea of her doing what it takes to get pregnant, carrying a baby in her little body and showing up in a hospital with labor pains… my God, I can’t even. This child still has to be reminded to brush her teeth, still cries when her hair is combed, still sneaks and watches Nick Jr., when she thinks no one is paying attention, still sleeps surrounded by a billion stuffed animals and half-dressed baby dolls and a nightlight because she’s still a little afraid of the dark.
She doesn’t drink wine. She doesn’t smoke cigarettes. She doesn’t like boys like that. And she certainly won’t be birthing any babies. Because she is, for all intents and purposes, still a baby herself. Being raised in a bubble meant for little girls who have a lifetime to live and get psychologically, emotionally, mentally and physically ready before they relinquish themselves to sexual relationships and motherhood.
Of course, here in America, parents are sending their fourth- and fifth-grade daughters to father/daughter dances in high heels and faces slathered with eye shadow and lipstick and blush—letting them bounce on YouTube in skimpy outfits to wholly inappropriate Rihanna songs. And the little girl who gave birth isn’t the first 10-year-old to do so—or even the youngest. This Wickepedia entry listing the world’s youngest known mothers says that that distinction is held by a FIVE-YEAR-OLD, who gave birth to a son in Peru in 1939. Still, knowing this does nothing to reduce my disgust about the 10-year-old who now has a baby girl of her own, or a culture that would knowingly encourage and allow it, or let the person who got her pregnant continue to rest easy, sans punishment and retribution.
I’m saying a prayer tonight that the 10-year-old Colombian girl whose giving birth made her one of the world’s youngest mothers receives healing, that the jerk who got her pregnant gets what’s coming to him and that the tribe’s elders have written somewhere in their customs that no matter where your people are from, no matter what your belief system is, no matter how you slice it, babies should not be having babies. Ever.