The Guardian reports that Evelyn Beatriz Hernandez Cruz, a 19-year-old El Salvadorian woman who was repeatedly raped by a gang member and fell pregnant as a result, was sentenced to 30 years in prison after a stillbirth due to complications during her pregnancy.
Evelyn says she didn’t know she was pregnant when she started experiencing tremendous back and stomach pains and gave birth in a toilet at her high school.
Experts couldn’t determine whether or not the foetus had died in utero or directly after the miscarriage and yet the judge, without any evidence to prove it, sentenced Evelyn for aggravated homicide because she failed to get prenatal care.
Prosecutors also argued that the baby might have died after she gave birth.
El Salvador is a country where abortion is illegal, no matter the circumstances. This means that women can be prosecuted for getting abortions even in cases of rape, incestuous rape and child rape as well as cases in which the foetus is not viable or where the mother’s life is directly threatened by the pregnancy.
This also means that more than 17 women have been sentenced to prison for miscarriages, stillbirths and other pregnancy complications.
Amnesty International’s Erika Guevara-Rosas says: “The total ban on abortion in El Salvador violates women’s rights to life, health, privacy, due process and freedom from discrimination, violence and torture and other ill-treatment. All women and girls imprisoned for having had an abortion or experiencing obstetric emergencies should be immediately and unconditionally released, and the law must be repealed without delay.”
Rape survivors, pregnant teenagers and all women who suffer medical emergencies when giving birth should be supported and given proper medical and psychological treatment.
Instead they are treated like criminals and prosecuted.
It is a gross human rights violation and Hernandez Cruz’s lawyers will be appealing the verdict.