Triumph for justice: El Salvador lawmakers pardon woman serving 30-year jail sentence for suffering a miscarriage
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.
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.
Guadalupe should never have been imprisoned in the first place. By criminalizing pregnancy-related complications and prohibiting abortion even when a woman’s life depends on it, El Salvador condemns thousands to death or decades behind bars.
Guadalupe was part of a group of 17 Salvadoran women serving terms of between 12 and 40 years in prison for pregnancy related complications.
How did Amnesty supporters make a difference?
In September 2014, Amnesty International published a groundbreaking report on the impact of El Salvador's total abortion ban.
This was followed by the launch of a petition pressing the Salvadoran authorities to end the ban on abortion and to stop throwing women in jail for having an abortion. The petition also called for the immediate release of all women and girls who have been imprisoned for having abortions or miscarriages. Hundreds of thousands of petition signatures have been gathered from around the world.
In January 2015, El Salvador's Legislative Assembly took a vote on whether to pardon Guadelupe, one of 17 women in jail with lengthy sentences for being accused of having an abortion. Amnesty International condemned the outcome of the vote and international pressure led to a re-vote being scehduled.
In the days leading up to the re-vote, Amnesty supporters took to the internet to send a wave of messages to Assembly members urging them to release Guadalupe and the other jailed women.
Guadalupe's pardon by El Salvador’s Parliamentary Assembly is a victory for human rights. Through their tireless activism, campaigning and generous donations, Amnesty supporters played a part in helping Guadalupe achieve justice.
Amnesty supporters will continue action action to free the other 16 women and overturn El Salvador's total abortion ban as party of the global "My Body My Rights" campaign that aims to make sure that everyone, everywhere in the world, can freely access their fundamental human rights to make decisions about their sexuality and reproduction.
(Photograph shows Amnesty activists and others uniting together with women and girls in El Salvador.)