PERU: Little Mother

  • At dawn one day last week, in the Lima Maternity Hospital, Hilda Trujillo gave birth to a daughter weighing a trifle over six pounds. The mother took no anesthetic, and the five-hour labor was entirely normal; so was the child, except that it was perhaps a month premature. Not normal: the mother's age. She was herself a child of nine years, seven months, 28 days. Only a few months ago she wore white cardboard wings and played an angel in the third-grade play at school.

    Hilda's mother, a servant, noted something odd about the girl in July, told her mistress, who took Hilda to the doctor. Astonished, he reported that Hilda was five months pregnant. Tearfully, the mother cried: "Let God's will be done." Hilda's father, however, rushed to the police, and they arrested a 22-year-old orphaned cousin who lived with the Trujillos in their one-room shack, charged him with rape.

    In November Hilda entered the Maternity Hospital as the patient of Obstetrician Rolando Colareta, underwent examination by a team of 16 obstetricians, gland specialists, radiologists, psychiatrists and general practitioners. They reported her to be normal, only a little older-looking than other girls of her age.

    Explained Colareta: "The rape of minors is nothing so unusual here or anywhere else. But of course rape does not mean pregnancy in children so young except in rare cases." In 30 years as an obstetrician he had seen four such cases in girls under eleven; Hilda Trujillo was only the second youngest. Eighteen years before he assisted in the case of the youngest: Lina Medina, pregnant at the age of five years, eight months; mother, by Caesarean section, of a normal boy at the age of six years, five months (TIME, May 29, 1939) .

    Last week Hilda's case rekindled interest in Lina. Now 24, short, stocky and reclusive, she works as a secretary in the Lima clinic of Dr. Gerardo Lozada, the doctor who performed her Caesarean. Lozada gave her an education, is now putting her son through high school, reports: "Lina's boy is normal and intelligent. He wants to take up electronics."