Teen Rape Victim Jailed for 30 Years for Stillbirth in Catholic Controlled El Salvador

By Staff | 7 July 2017
MWC News

Nineteen-year-old Evelyn Beatriz Hernandez Cruz convicted of aggravated homicide in El Salvador under country’s strict abortion law. Abortion was criminalised in El Salvador 20 years ago, after legislators from across the political spectrum voted to strip women of their reproductive rights without any public debate or medical consultation about the consequences. The 1997 reform was passed after a shadowy campaign by the Catholic Prelature of Opus Dei. (Source: Catholics for Choice)

A 19-year-old rape survivor has been sentenced to 30 years in prison in El Salvador after she suffered a stillbirth due to complications during her pregnancy.

Evelyn Beatriz Hernandez Cruz was convicted of “aggravated homicide” on Wednesday under what Amnesty International called El Salvador’s “retrograde anti-abortion law”.

Local rights groups say Hernandez Cruz had been raped months before going into labour, but had not told police out of fear.

She also said she did not know she was pregnant when she suffered severe abdominal pain and fainted in her bathroom in April 2016.

Hospital staff reported her to officials and she was charged after the body of the foetus was found in a toilet.

According to local media, Hernandez Cruz was convicted on grounds that she did not get prenatal care. Prosecutors also argued that the baby may have died after birth.

El Salvador is one of five countries where abortion is criminalised in all cases.

Under the country’s law, which was implemented in 1998, women can be charged for murder and other related charges even when a pregnancy is the result of rape, incest or when the life or health of the pregnant woman or girl is at risk.

A woman can be punished by up to eight years, and in some cases women have been given sentences of up to 40 years if a judge determines “homicide” was committed.

Politics in El Salvador are highly influenced by the Catholic Church.

“El Salvador’s anti-abortion law is causing nothing but pain and suffering to countless women and girls and their families,” Amnesty’s Americas Director Erika Guevara-Rosas said in a statement on Thursday.

“It goes against human rights and it has no place in the country or anywhere.”

Human Rights Watch has also called the law a risk to “women’s life and health”.

Women in an El Salvadoran jail wait in line for food. (Getty Images)

According to the Citizens Group for the Decriminalisation of Abortion (CDFA), Hernandez Cruz’s attorneys plan to appeal the ruling.

“Evelyn has been charged unfairly,” defence attorney Dennis Munoz said, according to CDFA.

“It’s a decision based on morality, not the law or justice.”

Pressure mounts

El Salvador-based Alliance for Women’s Health and Life documented at least 147 cases where women were charged with crimes under the abortion law between 2000 and 2014.

Among them was Maria Teresa Rivera, who was sentenced to 40 years in prison for “aggravated homicide” in 2011 after having a stillbirth in her bathroom. She did not know she was pregnant at the time.

She was released in 2016 after serving four-and-a-half years.

Pressure from women and rights groups has mounted across Latin America for governments to relax abortion laws.

Earlier this year, a bill was introduced in the El Salvador that would change the law to allow abortion in some circumstances, such as rape or when a woman’s health was a risk.

The proposed legislation remains in committee and there has been no decision as to whether it will be sent to parliament.

In May, a group of UN experts urged El Salvador to “allow the termination of pregnancy in specific circumstances”.

“The criminalisation of the termination of pregnancy imposes an intolerable cost on the women, their families and the society,” the experts said.

“It restricts women’s access to sexual and reproductive health services and information,” they added, saying El Salvador’s law is “contrary to international human rights standards and violates the country’s international obligations”.

A protest against the court’s decision in Hernandez Cruz’s case is expected later on Friday.

El Salvador teen sentenced to jail after stillbirth

El Salvador: ‘I had a miscarriage. The judge accused me of murder’

In El Salvador, A Miscarriage Leads To Jail

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17 COMMENTS

  1. Right on all counts. If not for dealing in fear, they have no base. Without fear, their teachings are seen as totally ridiculous.

  2. I cannot speak to this, and don't mess with me unless you are willing to face a flat bellied body builder that can easily press 300 pounds…..keyboard warriors. I have many female catholic friends,,,,including a wife. This is an issue for "THEM",,,,,,they will sort it out…..I am sure. The women always get their way if you haven't noticed. We are just their extra muscles……a role I play very well. Thank-You Donald for making this public. Perhaps now something might get done.

  3. Without religion, none of this disgusting behavior would occur. See my book, Christianity in Ruins, which exposes the faith for the brain-dead superstition it is.

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