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El Salvador

    May 06, 2016

    Amnesty campaigner Karen Javorski takes us inside one of El Salvador’s most notorious prisons to meet Teodora del Carmen Vásquez and María Teresa Rivera, women jailed after pregnancy complications.

    Teodora shares a cell with 70 other women. For María Teresa, it is 250. Cramped together like this, the women often have to sleep on the floor under the building’s hot tin roofs.

    This is Ilopango prison on the outskirts of San Salvador, capital of El Salvador. I’m here with my Amnesty colleagues, and our local partners, to visit Teodora del Carmen Vásquez and others from “Las 17”, a group of Salvadoran women who are in prison after suffering pregnancy-related complications.

    The women speak to us in an outdoor area just beyond the prison patio– the only place we are allowed to enter. The heat is intense and the mosquitos swarm, but at least we can catch the breeze outside. Inside, as Teodora and María Teresa tell us, it’s a different story: severe overcrowding, intense heat and strict rules that are both impractical and cruel. And yet you wouldn’t know it from the building’s fairly nondescript exterior.

    March 05, 2015

    By Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director, Amnesty International

    Last month in El Salvador, a young woman walked free after nearly a decade behind bars. Carmen Guadalupe Vásquez Aldana was just 18 when, in 2008, she was sentenced to 30 years in jail. Her crime? Having a miscarriage.

    El Salvador has one of the world’s most draconian abortion statutes. It criminalizes abortion on all grounds, including when the mother’s life or health is in danger, and in cases of rape. Women and girls cannot access an abortion even if continuing their pregnancy will kill them, or if their fetuses are not viable.

    Those who defy the law and seek unsafe, clandestine abortions face horrifying consequences: The World Health Organization in 2008 reported that 9 percent of maternal deaths in Central America are due to such procedures.

    Generally, wealthier Salvadorans can pay for private services or seek adequate medical care abroad. Most frequently, the law’s victims are patients in the country’s public clinics where doctors, fearing criminal prosecution, call the police when a woman arrives in pain.

    January 21, 2015

    Recently, the Salvadoran authorities refused to pardon Guadalupe, a young woman currently serving a 30-year jail sentence after suffering a miscarriage. One of her chief advocates is Morena Herrera. Here, the ex-freedom fighter, staunch feminist and sexual and reproductive rights campaigner tells us why El Salvador’s abortion ban needs to go.

    “I was a guerrilla fighter. I was an activist for social change since I was young,” says Morena Herrera. When the civil war ended in 1992 and the Peace Accords were signed, she knew that the fight was far from over.

    “Those accords left big holes when it came to women’s rights,” she says. “I realized I had to fight another way. Women’s rights are human rights and they have to be a priority.”

    Since 2009, Morena has been fighting “another way” through the Citizen’s Group for the Decriminalization of Abortion, a collective she heads today.

    October 14, 2014

    By Shiromi Pinto

    Yoshi Garcia is a Salvadoran activist and self-styled “DJ with a conscience”. Aged 24, her interest in gender equality issues started when she was around 14. Since then, she has joined numerous campaigning organizations, including Agrupaçion (the Citizen’s Group for the Decriminalization of Abortion) and Jovenes Voceras y Voceros en los DS y DR (Youth Voices for Sexual and Reproductive Rights). Here, she tells us how she became a passionate advocate against El Salvador’s total abortion ban.

    June 04, 2013

    UPDATE: Beatriz send thanks to those who spoke out for rights, after receiving life-saving treatment during her pregnancy.

    By Jacqueline Hansen, Major Campaigns and Women’s Rights Campaigner

    Twenty-two-year-old Beatriz from El Salvador waited for 14 weeks to receive life-saving medical treatment, knowing that the fetus growing inside her was missing most of its brain and skull and would not survive, and that her own life was at greater risk each and every day due to medical conditions aggravated by pregnancy.

    Beatriz underwent a cesarean section on Monday, June 3, and her infant died not long after delivery. As of midday on June 4, Beatriz remained in hospital in stable condition.

    May 31, 2013

    UPDATE: Beatriz send thanks to those who spoke out for rights, after receiving life-saving treatment during her pregnancy.

    Seven weeks ago, few people knew who Beatriz was, but over the last weeks the plight of this 22-year-old woman in El Salvador has inundated social media networks and travelled across the globe.

    Beatriz, a 22-year-old seriously ill pregnant woman who is six months into a non-viable pregnancy and has been diagnosed with a number of severe illnesses including lupus and kidney problems, has so far being prevented from having medical treatment that could save her life.

    May 23, 2013

    UPDATE: May 30th, Court denies Beatriz her appeal for access to a therapeutic abortion.

    By Esther Major, Central America researcher at Amnesty International

    Less than a month ago, few people knew who Beatriz was.

    But over the last few days and weeks the horrific plight of this 22-year-old woman in El Salvador has inundated social media networks and travelled across the globe.

    Mother-of-one Beatriz is pregnant and severely ill. She is currently in hospital with lupus and kidney problems. Her health situation is so severe that doctors say she could die if she continues with the pregnancy. The doctors have also diagnosed the foetus as anencephalic (lacking a large part of its brain and skull), which in almost all cases results in the baby’s death before or within a few hours or days of birth.