The number of girls up to 14 years old who give birth in Brazil

Entry type: Single project

Country/area: Brazil

Publishing organisation: Nexo Jornal

Organisation size: Small

Publication date: 2022-06-29

Language: Portuguese

Authors: Caroline Souza, infographic designer
Gabriel Zanlorenssi, data scientist and graphics editor


Caroline Souza is a visual journalist and designer with a bachelor degree in Geography, at University of São Paulo, and Columbia’s Lede Progam Alumni. She was part of Nexo Jornal team from 2019 to 2022.

Gabriel Zanlorenssi is Data Editor at Nexo Jornal and part of Graphics team since 2017. He holds a master’s degree in Political Science at University of São Paulo and part of ‘INMA 30 Under 30’ list in 2022.

Project description:

243 thousand girls at 14 years old or younger gave birth in Brazil in a period of ten years (2011-2020). Pregnancy at that age involves significant health risk and are often associated with sexual violence. The article bring attention to this fact, using data visualization and simple illustration.

Impact reached:

The article had a great reception among our readers and raised awareness about a sensitive topic, responsively.

Techniques/technologies used:

R and the tidyverse package were used for data analysis and initial charts. Data was collected used httr package to interact with national healthcare system’s API.

Adobe Illustrator was used for overall design and layout.

Context about the project:

Under Brazilian law, abortion is a right guaranteed by law in cases of life-threatening pregnancies, sexual violence or fetal anencephaly. However, in June 2022, a judge from the state of Santa Catarina took initiatives that prevented an 11-year-old girl, victim of rape, from having an abortion.

This fact was neither unique nor isolated: in August 2020, ultraconservatives harassed employees of a hospital where a 10-year-old girl, raped by her stepfather, would have a legal abortion.

Both cases had great national repercussions and also exposed a concerning reality: 243 thousand girls gave birth in ten years in Brazil.

What can other journalists learn from this project?

There are two main lessons. One is how to represent visually sensitive information in a way that the data remember us that behind the numbers are real and vulnerable people. It reflects in the choices we made about colors, illustrations and which visualizations to present.

The other is to, when it is possible, to go to microdata. Our article uses microdata that is only accessible through the national healthcare system’s API. With this more granular data, we could expand our analysis beyond the numbers of births per year. One example of that is the chart that presents the age of the masculine progenitor in the cases analysed.

In 72,6% of the births involving girls at 14 or younger, there is no information about that male progenitor. When it is available, 79,3% are older than 18 years. This is also an example of how we can use missing information as an information.

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