Raped Teenaged Jailed For 30 Years For Having A Miscarriage In El Salvador

A 19 year old in El Salvador faces 30 years in prison, having been convicted of murder for having a miscarriage. The pregnancy was a result of a rape.

Raped Teenaged Jailed For 30 Years For Having A Miscarriage

by Georgina Roberts |

The staunchly Catholic El Salvador is a nation with perhaps the world’s strictest, most terrifying laws on reproductive rights. A 19-year-old teenager has been jailed for 30 years after she suffered a miscarriage. The pregnancy was the result of rape.

Evelyn Beatriz Hernandez Cruz has been convicted of aggravated homicide after a court found she had allegedly killed her baby by throwing it into a latrine pit after she gave birth. A miscarriage case is classed as a murder case in El Salvador, as they believe human beings come into existence from the moment of conception. Evelyn, a rape victim, does not deserve to be convicted for being impregnated against her will. She has been violated not only sexually but her human rights have also been violated by the law. These laws, made by men to control women’s bodies, seem ludicrous in the 21st century.

Alarmingly, the future can start to look like the past. El Salvador is actively moving backwards. Prior to 1998, the termination of pregnancies was permitted in the case of rape, incest, or when a woman’s life was at risk. Now, thanks to pressure from the Church and right-wing politicians, terminations are banned in all circumstances.

Evelyn’s case is not an isolated incident, but the latest in a string of cases where women have been convicted for having miscarriages or abortions. No nation prosecutes the law with as much aggression as El Salvador. The figures are horrifying – between 1998-2013, over 600 women have been jailed for having an abortion or miscarriage. These are often women from poorer communities, as many are illiterate and have poor sexual education – Evelyn’s lawyer said she did not even realise she was pregnant. Few of these women have access to a lawyer when they are accused of murder. So, while the rich of El Salvador fly to Miami to terminate their pregnancies, the poor end up in court. Often, the women in court are immediately assumed to be guilty. Evelyn’s lawyers are appealing her conviction, saying she was unjustly sentenced without proof. This echoes the Executive Director for the decriminalisation of Abortion’s comments that 'El Salvador justice is applied without direct proof.'

Although the situation in El Salvador is particularly extreme, women's reproductive rights are under attack around the world. Notably in America, where we find ourselves in a time where the leader of the Free World, President Donald Trump, has previously commented that women who have abortions should be punished. Sound familiar? The return to so-called “traditional” values which Trump stands for dangerously harks back to the sexism of the past. If passed, an upcoming GOP healthcare bill would defund Planned Parenthood, a non-profit organisation that provides sexual health care. Many American women rely on this service for abortion and birth control.

Even at home in the UK, the situation is also troubling. Women from Northern Ireland have only just won the right to an abortion on the NHS in mainland Britain, and they still have to travel there. For a long time, we seemed to turn a blind eye to the situation for women in Ireland. We should be wary of this tendency.

We need to make sure that we remain shocked by situations like those in El Salvador - we cannot let the abnormal become the norm while we look the other way. We should not take our own rights for granted, and need to keep campaigning for the rights of women like Evelyn.

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Follow Georgina on Instagram @georgina_roberts

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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