A high school student from El Salvador was sentenced to 30 years in prison after she gave birth to a stillborn baby in 2016. Evelyn Beatriz Hernandez Cruz, now 19 years old, was convicted of charges alleging that she failed to seek antenatal care, which the prosecutor argued amounted to murder. Hernandez was in a forced sexual relationship with a gang member, who repeatedly raped her. She has insisted that she did not realize she was pregnant until she fell ill and gave birth in a toilet in April 2016.
Medical experts were not able to say whether the baby died in utero or in the moments after delivery. She was convicted by a female judge, who sided with the prosecutor’s claim that Hernandez had intentionally not sought antenatal care and thrown the baby in the toilet with the intention of killing it. “The judgment sentencing Evelyn to 30 years in prison shows how in El Salvador justice is applied without direct proof, without sufficient evidence that clarifies what a woman has done,” said Morena Herrera, executive director of the Citizens’ Group for the Decriminalisation of Abortion. El Salvador criminalized abortion 20 years ago and is one of only five countries where the practice is illegal under any circumstance, leading to the imprisonment of dozens of poor young women. Hernandez’s lawyer said the judge’s decision was unjust and unlawful, and said they would appeal the verdict.
Read the full story at The Guardian.