10-Year-Old Girl Gives Birth, Becoming World’s Youngest Mother

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.

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1. A Dad’s Plea: Let Our Little Girls Stay Little for As Long As We Can
2. Stilettos and 10-Year-olds: A Dad Says, “Aw, Hell To the Nah!”
3. Love In the Time Of Play Dates

 

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Denene Millner

Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.

8 Comments

  1. This saddens me. I remember what I was doing when I was ten and how magical childhood was to me at that point. For this young girl to have her childhood snatched from her is indeed a tragedy.

  2. I understand your point. But this is just a story to remind people that things that happened in the early 1600s in America still occur in other countries or cities around the world. It was not a big deal back then for children to have children. Many places are not as “developed” as America. I do not agree with a child having a child, but many places are not developed. I mean there are countries that still have slavery and cities (in America), that do not believe education is important. Such as the people that live in the Appalachian Mountains. Whether we think it is right or wrong, culture plays a very large part in a child’s environment. This so happens to be an environment that is not as developed. And back in the 1600s even in the 1960s children were more mature back then. They wash clothes, took care of grandparents, babysat their younger siblings, cooked, etc. The world has so many different cultures and environments. If this situation was in DC, Atlanta, LA, Chi-town, etc. I would write all types of letters to congress. But in a small town in Colombia with an indigenous culture, let them be.

  3. so i had to google this tribe to get some more info. apparently there is a foundation (The Wayuú Tayá Foundation), who according to their mission statement (taken directly from their website) is To help improve the lives of Latin-American indigenous people while maintaining and respecting their traditions, culture and beliefs. they have an annual gala with several celebrity donors. i emailed them asking where they stand on this 10 year old child giving birth. i mean, if they want to maintain traditions…. i was just curious.

  4. In our “civilized” society this is undoubtedly shocking, yet Melissa is correct in reminding us that much of the world is not as developed as the U.S. I was saddened when I read this story online thinking this young girl, unlike our children, was probably not exposed to risque television programs or the ills of media that our kids are exposed to. Her village probably didn’t have radios blasting song lyrics degrading women or proposing sexual acts and she had no one to protect her or the other girls in her village from being raped. The article itself states “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.”

    “Several”? Therein lies my outrage. Not that a 10 year old child gave birth, but “several” meaning this is a common practice in this society. If they were birthing them in their village, okay I could argue, “oh, this poor ‘uncivilized’ society”, but um, ‘cuse me they’re going to the hospital. “Uncivilized” – DENIED. We know where the doctors are, but could someone point these children to Child Protective Services.

  5. Alexandrea Ward

    This is a little shocking to me, though not as much as I thought it would when I read the title of this article. There are girls in the US having children younger, and with all of our so-called technological advances how can we account for that? We say that we are so far ahead of various “third world” countries but when you consider this article, it doesn’t seem that we’re as far ahead as we thought, huh? All we can do is stay informed, educate our children and not judge others because who knows what that young girl has been raised to believe and value. Could be completely different from what we think.

  6. You have to menstruate before being able to conceive a child correct? How is a ten year old already menstruating? And furthermore how was a five year old in 1939 menstruating?

    • Denene@MyBrownBaby

      It is possible to menstruate at 10 years old. There is no lock on the age a girl can get her period, and these days, girls are reaching puberty relatively early, starting as early as eight or nine. Also, there is a condition called “precocious puberty” that explains how a child as young as five could menstruate. I encourage you to do some research on the subject to familiarize yourself.

      • I know that girls are maturing far earlier than they did years ago and it’s a shame that such a young girl has to cope with her body maturing faster than her mind and emotional self. The whole matter of teen and preteen motherhood is a sad state of affairs. Enjoy youth and freedom as long as you can. These poor girls I would assume have no choice in the matter but for girls who do it is so important that they are educated and taught to understand and respect themselves before bringing another life into the world. Motherhood is a wonderful thing…..I wouldn’t trade my daughter for anything. But it is a serious job to care for and raise another human being. The glorification of teen motherhood on tv is truly disgusting. And you are so right……babies should not be having babies ever!

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