Abortion laws

Women jailed for losing babies continue fight for compensation

(CLAUDIO SANTANA/AFP/GettyImages)

The case of three Salvadoran women who were imprisoned for losing their babies under El Salvador’s harsh abortion laws, will now have their cases examined by the People’s Tribunal. El Salvador banned abortion completely in 1998, even without exceptions for when a woman’s health or life is at risk or when she has been raped. Between 2000 and 2014, more than 250 women have been reported to the police on this basis — 49 of them were eventually convicted, even though the majority of them were young, poor women who lost their babies due to complications. The People’s Tribunal will function as “a way to access alternative justice for the women,” according to Sara García, an advocacy worker with the Citizens’ Group. “It will provide a space to make visible the systematic human rights violations suffered by these women, and advocate for justice in each particular case.”

The first case to be considered by the tribunal centers on Guadalupe Vásquez, who was raped and impregnated at 17, and then imprisoned for over seven years when her baby died a few moments after she gave birth at home, alone. She was pardoned and freed last year, as the Supreme Court decided that her conviction was unsafe.  “I lost my youth in prison for a crime I didn’t commit,” Vásquez, a devout Catholic who was looking forward to becoming a mother, told The Guardian. “I wanted my baby, I don’t know why she died or what happened to her; her body was never returned to my family.” The tribunal will decide whether the state should pay reparations for what she has been through.

The two other cases involve Maria Teresa Rivera, a 33-year old woman who is serving a 40-year prison sentence for aggravated homicide because she miscarried while not realizing she was pregnant, and 32-year old Teodora del Carmen Vásquez, 32, who was sentenced to 30 years after a stillbirth just days before her due date. The tribunal, run by the Central American University in San Salvador, famed for its human rights work, will only make symbolic rulings and recommendations in these cases — which will then be sent to the necessary authorities.

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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