Constructions of childhood, victimhood and abortion in Romania: the ‘little-girl mother’

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Jackie Kirkham


Abstract: In June 2008 in Romania an 11-year-old girl found herself thrust into the media spotlight when it was discovered that she was 17 weeks pregnant after being raped by her uncle.  Romanian abortion laws permit abortion only up to 14 weeks gestation. In the weeks that followed, the case was rarely out of the popular media, with debates about both the minutiae of this particular case and more general discussion about the appropriateness of the current legal provision taking place within the context of widespread concern about the phenomenon of fetiţe-mame (‘little girl-mothers’).  This article considers the way the extensive media coverage of this case contributed to debates in Romania around abortion, childhood and child protection, but also exposed insecurities around national identity and Romania’s place within a wider Europe.  It argues that this case serves as a “critical discourse moment” (Brown and Ferree, 2005:10) which highlights concerns about legislative shortcomings around abortion, media and professional roles in child protection, and the construction of childhood more generally in Romania.


Keywords: Romania, abortion, childhood, media, child protection

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