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El Salvador

    May 20, 2016

    A court's decision today to release a woman who spent four years in jail in El Salvador for miscarrying her pregnancy is a great victory for human rights, said Amnesty International.

    María Teresa Rivera, 33, was jailed in 2011 and sentenced to 40 years in prison for “aggravated homicide” after having a miscarriage.

    "The release of María Teresa is yet another step towards justice in a country where women are treated as mere second class citizens," said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    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.

    November 30, 2015

    Released Monday 30 November 2015, 00:01 Mexico Time (06:00 GMT)        

    El Salvador’s extreme anti-abortion law is having a devastating effect on the lives of scores of children whose mothers, having suffered miscarriages or other obstetric emergencies, are being held behind bars accused of having illegal abortions, said Amnesty International in a new report today.

    Separated families, broken ties, reveals how children of women jailed under the absurd anti-abortion law are often left facing difficult financial circumstances and prevented from staying in touch with their mothers.

    “Each time authorities in El Salvador unfairly lock up a woman for having a miscarriage or suffering pregnancy related complications, they are also condemning her children to a life of poverty and trauma,” said Astrid Valencia, Central America Researcher at Amnesty International.

    March 18, 2015

    El Salvador’s government must take the opportunity to reform its draconian abortion law, said Amnesty International today as the country responds to a series of recommendations, mostly relating to abortion and gender discrimination, during its Universal Periodic Review (UPR), at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.

    "El Salvador has one of the most draconian abortion laws in the world, criminalizing abortion on all grounds, even when a woman or girl’s life or health is in danger and even in cases of rape and incest. This restrictive law has put women and girls at the brink of death,” said Amnesty International Americas Director Erika Guevara Rosas.

    “El Salvador is expected to accept its duty to provide access to sexual health services and contraception, as recommended by states at the UN. We would welcome that step forward. But picking and choosing which recommendations to follow may leave in place a total ban on abortion. Dozens of women are in jail for pregnancy-related complications, some of them facing up to 40 years behind bars.”

    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 22, 2015

    El Salvador’s Parliamentary Assembly has pardoned a young woman who had been imprisoned after suffering a miscarriage. The pardon is a triumph of justice and gives hope to other women languishing in jail on similar charges. The pardon came days after Amnesty supporters took to Twitter and Facebook to urge El Salvador's Legislative Assembly to free the woman and others jailed for similar reasons.

    What happened?

    In El Salvador, abortion is always a crime. If you’re poor and have a miscarriage, you may be accused of having an abortion and locked up.

    Just 18 years old when she was jailed, Guadalupe was sentenced to 30 years in prison after suffering a miscarriage in 2007. She was wrongly accused of having an abortion, which is outlawed in all circumstances in El Salvador.

    Guadalupe’s harrowing story is just one example of how the authorities in El Salvador go to ridiculous lengths to punish women.

    January 22, 2015

    A pardon granted by El Salvador’s Parliamentary Assembly to a young woman imprisoned after suffering a miscarriage is a triumph of justice and gives hope to the other 15 women languishing in jail on similar charges, said Amnesty International.

    In 2007 “Guadalupe” received a 30 year jail sentence after authorities wrongly suspected she had terminated her pregnancy. She was only 18 years old.  

    “With this decision, El Salvador has undone a terrible injustice. Guadalupe should have never been jailed in the first place. This release is a triumph of justice and a result of the tireless work by local human rights activists,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    “This decision must mark a turning point for El Salvador’s retrograde laws which punish women and girls when having medical complications during their pregnancies. It is time for the authorities to review the sentences against all women imprisoned for pregnancy-related complications and end its criminalization of women and girls and its heinous anti-abortion ban.”

    January 21, 2015

    El Salvador’s Legislative Assembly must vote today to overturn horrifying injustice and pardon a woman imprisoned for 30 years after having a miscarriage, said Amnesty International today.

    “Guadalupe” was just 18-years-old when she was imprisoned in 2007. She received a 30 year sentence after authorities suspected she could have actively terminated her pregnancy.  Members already voted on 16 January and “Guadalupe” lost her plea by just one vote. They will vote again today.

    “Today El Salvador has the chance to rectify a terrible injustice perpetrated against this young woman. She has already spent seven long years in prison away from her family and her release cannot come a moment too soon,” said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director Amnesty International.

    Abortion is totally banned in El Salvador, even if the pregnancy could kill the woman. Some women, mainly those living in poverty, who have a miscarriage are automatically criminalized.

    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.

    January 15, 2015

    Authorities in El Salvador must end their ruthless campaign against women’s rights and immediately release a woman imprisoned after losing her pregnancy in 2007, Amnesty International said today ahead of a key Parliamentary vote on her case.

    The country’s Parliament is set to vote this Friday on issuing the first pardon in the cases of 17 women imprisoned for pregnancy related issues.

    Guadalupe, who was 18 years old when she was jailed and has a five-year-old son, was sentenced to 30 years in prison after suffering a miscarriage in 2007. She was accused of having an abortion, which is outlawed in any circumstance in El Salvador.

    “Guadalupe’s harrowing story is just one example of how the authorities in El Salvador go to ridiculous lengths to punish women. She should have never been imprisoned in the first place and must not be made to spend another second behind bars,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    October 28, 2014

    El Salvador came under pressure from nine countries at the United Nations last night to amend its repressive and out-dated abortion laws. The effects of these laws amount to institutionalized violence, torture and other forms of ill-treatment against women and girls, said Amnesty International

    A further 12 countries have raised concerns about continued discrimination against women in the country.

    El Salvador was called upon at the United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UPR) to reform laws that bar access to abortion in all circumstances and send women to prison for having miscarriages or clandestine abortions.

    “We have seen first-hand the devastating impact these laws are having on the women and girls of El Salvador, from women dying during clandestine abortions, to others imprisoned for more than 40 years after having suffered a miscarriage. Now representatives from various countries have joined us in saying enough is enough,” said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    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.

    September 25, 2014

    Originally Released  25 September 2014 13:30 GMT

    The government’s repressive and outdated total ban on abortion is blighting the lives of women and girls in El Salvador, pushing them to unsafe, clandestine abortions or forcing them through dangerous pregnancies, Amnesty International said today. Those terminating their pregnancies could face years in prison.

    Amnesty International’s recent report, On the brink of death: Violence against women and the abortion ban in El Salvador, charts how the country’s restrictive law results in the deaths of hundreds of women and girls who seek clandestine abortions. The criminalization of the practice has also resulted in those suspected of undertaking an abortion facing long prison sentences. 

    “The horrific repression that women and girls in El Salvador face is truly shocking and akin to torture. They are denied their fundamental right to make decisions about their own bodies and are severely punished if they dare to do so,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International, who launched the report in San Salvador today.

    September 24, 2014

    Remember Beatriz?

    She nearly died last year because the government of El Salvador refused to let her terminate the pregnancy that was making her fatally ill—a pregnancy in which the fetus was unlikely to survive because it was missing large parts of its brain.

    Every year, thousands of women and girls are denied their human rights by El Salvador’s total abortion ban. It doesn’t matter whether they are 10 years old and pregnant because they were raped, or whether the pregnancy is a risk to their lives: El Salvador’s abortion laws force them to carry the pregnancy to term.

    Women who have a miscarriage can be jailed for up to 50 years for aggravated homicide, because the state suspects them of having a clandestine abortion.

    With no comprehensive education about sex and relationships, and obstacles to accessing contraception, El Salvador has the highest teen pregnancy rate in Latin America. And more than half of all deaths of pregnant teens in the country are due to suicide.

    June 17, 2013

    Since May, we've been asking for your help to save the life of Beatriz - a pregnant mother in El Salvador desperately in need of emergency medical treatment.

    Finally, thanks to your support, we can announce the good news that Beatriz has received the treatment she needed and is now recovering in hospital. And now she has shared her words of thanks.

    Translation: 

    San Salvador, 10 June 2013

    To my friends from the Colectivo Feminista and everywhere else,

    I want to thank you for having supported me all the way, and without you I think I wouldn’t have been able to stand being in the hospital.

    I also want to thank you for all the actions you took for my life.

    This situation has been very difficult and without your support I wouldn’t have been able to get through it.

    I hope my example serves so that other women won’t have to go through what I suffered.

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