Preview: Unreported World – Teen Mums: Pregnant and Trapped

Unreported World

(S43 Ep3)

Unreported World is in rural Guatemala, where the cries of young girls go unheard, and a silent crisis of abuse and child pregnancies is robbing a generation of their youth.

Reporter Anja Popp follows one dedicated case worker trying to reverse deep-rooted attitudes towards women, in a country still reeling from the legacy of a brutal civil war. In the mountains and valleys of Alta Verapaz, a remote and predominantly indigenous state, we meet Carmelina Chocooj, one of the few sexual health case workers in the region. But she has a herculean task, with the state having one of the highest rates of sexual violence in the country.

We discover that isolated girls are particularly vulnerable, with no phone signal and no neighbours. ‘The homes are spaced out. If a man arrives to assault a minor, why would she scream? No one’s going to hear her,’ Carmelina explains. This is the reality for thousands of girls in Guatemala.

In quiet villages, hours from anywhere, Popp meets the teenagers Carmelina is trying to help, many of whom were raped and abused by men they say they know. But while their terrible stories often go unheard, the babies they carry are harder to ignore. With Covid lockdowns providing the perfect conditions for abuse, teenage pregnancies are at disturbing levels. We learn that during lockdown, sexual abuse tripled, with 11 girls between the ages of 10 to 14 becoming pregnant through rape every day.

We explore how the justice system appears to be failing these girls and learn that only 3% of reported sexual violence cases are investigated, with alleged abusers able to easily buy their way out of jail. But we meet one brave girl called Angelina who’s taking on a powerful community figure, and the system, to try to remove the option of bail for alleged rapists of children under 14. But while the wheels of justice slowly turn in her case, her alleged attacker still lives next door.

Ostracised by their communities, and sometimes pressured to live with their abusers, the future for these girls can be bleak. But Carmelina and a handful of organisations are trying to make a difference. We visit rural schools and a refuge in Guatemala City where young girls are being taught to understand their bodies, and resist the cycle of abuse that is the lasting legacy of a civil war that systematically degraded indigenous Mayan communities.

Unreported World – Teen Mums: Pregnant and Trapped

Friday at 7.30pm on Channel 4.

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