Things That Matter

Prosecutors Are Preparing To Take Evelyn Hernandez To Court For The Third Time Because Of A Miscarriage

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Evelyn Beatríz Hernández is just 21 years old and seems to be proving that El Salvador will jail women for simply being women. In 2016, Hernández was raped by a gang member and was afraid to tell anyone about it after he made death threats against her and her family for speaking out. Months later, she fainted while using the bathroom, unknowingly having miscarried during the process. One year later, El Salvador charged her for murdering her newborn child and sentenced her to 30 years in prison for aggravated homicide. After public outcry, the Supreme Court annulled the conviction and freed her after spending nearly 3 years in prison, citing lack of evidence.

It ordered a retrial with a new judge. That judge acquitted her in August. But prosecutors won’t rest until they see Hernández go to prison. Federal prosecutors are appealing the judge’s ruling, which means Hernández may have to endure another court trial.

Evelyn Hernández was just 18 years old at the time of her rape and miscarriage.

Credit: @ilyseh / Twitter

She was still a student in high school when she was raped in 2016. She had no idea she was pregnant when she went to her rural home’s outhouse with stomach pains and bleeding. That’s when she fainted. Her mom found her on the outhouse floor, drenched in blood and took her to the hospital. Doctors found signs that she had delivered a baby, but not even an awareness of a baby.

El Salvador has an absolute ban on abortion which has led to the harsh criminalization of women and their bodies. 

Credit: @allianceforchoice / Twitter

Doctors are required to call authorities. Hours later, local officials found a newborn dead in the family’s septic tank. Hernández was immediately accused and charged with inducing abortion and aggravated homicide. El Salvador imposed a total ban on abortions in 1998, no matter if the woman is raped, or if the pregnancy poses a risk to the mother’s life. 

Hernández was found guilty by a female judge, who sentenced her for 30 years on a murder conviction.

Credit: @bassemvaudais / Twitter

The three years that follow her initial traumatic rape have been a nightmare for the young woman. In July 2017, a female judge ruled that Hernández had induced abortion. Thankfully, civil rights activists around the world called on El Salvador to reexamine the case. Her lawyers cited forensic tests that showed the baby more likely died of natural causes and was stillborn, prompting a re-trial. The Supreme Court annulled the original conviction on September 26, 2018, and ordered a re-trial.

Six months later, she walked out of Ilopango Women’s Prison, met by a cheering crowd of mujeres carrying “Justice for Evelyn” banners.

Credit: @ErikaGuevaraR / Twitter

“I thank all of you who have supported me and thank everyone from around the world who has shown support,” Evelyn told the press and her supporters. “It was tough to be locked up, especially when I was innocent. There are others who are still locked up and I hope they are freed soon.” 

Last month, she faced what many people thought would be her last trial, during which prosecutors blamed her for the miscarriage.

Credit: @ActualidadRT / Twitter

The American Bar Association’s Center for Human Rights reported that the federal prosecutor argued that she was “liable for aggravated homicide by omission: in other words, that Ms. Hernandez had failed to fulfill the duty of care that she owed her child.” Hernández allegedly had “knowingly neglected to seek appropriate prenatal services during her pregnancy.”

Still, on August 19, 21-year-old Evelyn Beatríz Hernández Cruz was acquitted after a judge ruled that there was not enough evidence to convict her of the alleged crime she had been accused of years prior.  She stood on the steps of the courthouse after her acquittal and told the world, “Thank God, justice had been done. My future is to continue studying and to move forward with my goals. I am happy.”

El Salvador continues to prosecute Hernández because that’s what El Salvador does to women.

Credit: @AbortoPORlaVIDA / Twitter

According to Buzzfeed News, Hernández is just one of the dozens of women who are serving prison time for murder charges of their infants. If women are even suspected of abortion, they can be prosecuted as criminals in El Salvador. Even seeking the procedure itself, without actually benefitting from it, is tantamount to the crime in El Salvador. It is one of 16 countries in the world with such strict regulations on women’s bodies, including  Egypt, Honduras, Haiti, Nicaragua, among others.

Human rights activists are disturbed by the level of resources the Salvadoran government is spending on convicting women. Hernández has been found innocent twice, now, and may be looking at another trial.

READ: A Salvadoran Rape Victim Sentenced To 30 Years In Prison For Having A Stillbirth Has Been Acquitted

News Outlets Are Flooded With Terrifying News, But Here’s A List Of Really Good News That Is Affecting Latinx

Fierce

News Outlets Are Flooded With Terrifying News, But Here’s A List Of Really Good News That Is Affecting Latinx

We Are / Getty Images

Every day, television, print, and social media news bombard us with the worst of the world’s major updates and reports. From news of global warming and racism to accounts of mass shootings and political in-fighting, it’s hard to see any good news in these daily publishings. It can get overwhelming and downright depressing. It begins to feel like there is nothing but negativity and bad news in the world. 

However, we know that isn’t true. No matter how bad it seems, there are daily triumphs that we should celebrate as sources of positivity and hope in our world no matter how small these wins seem. We asked our FIERCE readers to share with us some of the good news that is happening in their lives. Hopefully, their stories of success will rejuvenate you and remind you of your own personal victories.

1. Dad deserves some rest and relaxation.

Instagram / @securedretirementradio

“Dad told me today he is preparing to retire in December! This man, like many of our fathers/grandfathers, was up every day at 5 AM working hard to make sure I had everything – now he can relax and let me (try) to make sure he has a nice retirement ❤️” @mianoel18

2. They grow up so fast.

Instagram / @mainan.anaktoys

“My two-year-old started preschool today. The regional center is paying for 2 days. It took a lot of work to get to this point. I’m a single mom ❤️” @xochitl_esperanza

3. An educated Latina.

Instagram / @nataliemcortes

“Graduating with my Ph.D. soon. Proud First-gen Mexicana ❤️ !! ” @ana_kaboom

4. You are worthy of good things.

Instagram / @thecleverbabecompany

“I’m currently applying to medical school and my imposter syndrome was hitting me pretty hard but after my first interview, I’m excited about the rest. (I got interviews at schools I thought would flat out reject me)” @elizpicazo

5. Making her dreams come true.

Instagram / @johnmarkgreenpoetry

“This 43-year-old mother of two just passed her first-year law school exam! Less than 20% of those who take it pass. In three years I’ll be taking the California bar exam! It’s never too late to go after your goals!” @mujerlaw

6. Congrats, you’re a homeowner!

Instagram / @abbieimagine

“Officially done paying my house as of this month 🙏🏼😭🙏🏼😭🙏🏼” @teresasole48

7. A reunion worth waiting for.

Instagram / @donia_artwork

“I haven’t seen my best friend in two years and she bought her plane ticket today to join me for Thanksgiving and I am SO EXCITED 😍😍😍😍”   @katie.i.cannon

8. Pay it forward.

Instagram / @deepalshah01

“A job opportunity at this place I volunteer for opened up and I’m really excited about it. I applied it’s a legal advocate position to help innocent victims of all crime. I just really want to pay it forward and be who I needed when I was younger. I’m just asking for prayers and good vibes this way 🙏🏽”   @pieldecanela__

9. Get that bread, girl!

Instagram / @j.duh

“I am starting my first job after college on Monday! I will help in launching a Latinx outreach program! I am so excited” @bookwormweirdo

10. Support those Latina-owned businesses. 

Instagram / @lovelyeventsbyvon

“My gringo esposo and I started a Paleteria @gringojakespaleteria and we entered a competition to win our own shop with free rent for a year! 👏🏽👏🏽 Even if we don’t win, we’ve learned so much and conquered our fear of public speaking! 💗” @oliviamsal

11. A multitude of blessings.

Instagram / @roccaboxuk

“I just graduated from UW-Madison (just announced #13 public university in the country). I am a first-gen college student so I am so so proud of myself. Still looking for a job (accepting all prayers/good vibes thx 😊). My parents have been looking for their first house for months and are set to close and move in at the end of the month!” @april_rose13

12. So much to be thankful for.

Instagram / @the.sarasa

“I nailed the audition for @tedxevansville and will be speaking about our Latinx community on November 8th! I just moved across the country too, and I both my company and myself are starting new projects and getting more business 🙏🏽❤️ @officiallawtina also my parents are opening the first authentic Latin American restaurant (Serving 9 countries’ foods) in September 17th in a small town where it is finally starting to diversify more and become more inclusive, and this is a HUGE step for the community!” @cindypetrovalfaro

13. Celebrate Latina creators.

Instagram / @weallgrowlatina

“My film @hyphenfilm is hitting the film festivals! Even up for a film star award 🙂 @riaservellon

14. Travel feeds the spirit.

Instagram / @evolution_of_spirit

“My Ma and sis got to travel to Spain 🇪🇸 🙏🏽 We are not rich rich so to us this is Amazing!!!! @jjj259 @essjayyvee 💕 have fun love you!!!” @jayyvee_xo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4n-R07zlz1g

A 14-Year-Old Was Reportedly Driven To Suicide After She Was Humiliated At Her Own School For Having Her Period

Fierce

A 14-Year-Old Was Reportedly Driven To Suicide After She Was Humiliated At Her Own School For Having Her Period

A 14-year-old Kenyan girl killed herself after being period shamed by a teacher when she did not have access to a pad. The tragedy has caused unrest in Kenya, unifying women Parliament members to end period stigma, causing parents to mobilize, and launching a formal investigation into the girl’s death. Period shame around the world is an oppressive force that undermines bodily autonomy, education, and personal freedoms for girls and nonbinary people by stigmatizing a basic body function.

According to the United Nations Population Fund report on Menstrual Health Management in East and Southern Africa, “Studies from Kenya find that schoolgirls engage in transactional sex to pay for menstrual products, particularly for the younger, uneducated, economically dependent girls.” 

In the United States, a survey of 1500 women and 500 men by THINX revealed that 58 percent of women felt a sense of embarrassment for simply being on their period and 42 percent said they had been explicitly period shamed.

While Kenya has recently taken steps to make sanitary napkins more accessible at schools, this structural failure has led to a tragic loss. 

Period shaming can have tragic consequences. 

A 14-year-old Kenyan girl started her period for the very first time while at middle school in Bomet County, Kenya. When she couldn’t obtain a pad, the girl began to bleed through her school uniform. Unable to concentrate, due to the incident, she asked for help. Then her teacher berated her in class, calling her “dirty” for staining her clothes. 

Forced to leave the classroom, she walked home. After telling her mother what happened, she said she was going to go fetch water, but instead, she killed herself. According to a local Kenyan newspaper Daily Nation, Konoin Sub-County Police Commander Alex Shikondi said that officers took the girl’s body to a nearby hospital. 

“When police arrived at the scene, they found the girl had committed suicide… and the body was moved to Kapkatet Hospital mortuary,” said Commander Alex Shikondi.

Parents want answers.

The girl’s mother, Beatrice Koech, spoke to Daily Nation about what happened. She claimed her daughter believed the female teacher would be an ally to her, and help her understand what was happening. Instead, her daughter was shamed in front of the classroom. 

“She had nothing to use as a pad,” Koech told the newspaper. “When the blood stained her clothes, she was told to leave the classroom and stand outside.”

Koech reported the incident to police, but after four days of inaction, parents stormed the school in protest. Parents wanted to know why the teacher shamed the 14-year-old. Police threw tear gas canisters at the parents who were blocking the road to the school. Officers arrested five demonstrators. The school was closed and students were sent home. 

Basic Education Act of 2017

Kenya passed the Basic Education of 2017, which makes access to menstrual napkins mandatory in public schools across the country. Pads in public schools are not a mere luxury, the necessary product is inaccessible to many in the region. Just last year, the capital of Kenya itself was hit with a tampon shortage when there was massive Kotex recall in Nairobi due to a malfunctioning batch.

When a person has their period and no sanitary napkins or tampons, they are more likely to stay home from school. This can have negative effects on girls’ and nonbinary folks’ education and self-esteem, often making children feel like a burden. 

“The cost of menstrual products may also contribute to the perception that daughters are economically burdensome,” according to the United Nations

School is often the only place where students can get pads, which is why the Basic Education Act is great. Nevertheless, many schools have still not implemented the program or have been skipped over. 

Kenyans want justice.

According to BuzzFeed, “An organization called One Dollar for Life, which makes and distributes reusable pads to girls across Kenya, has ramped up its outreach in light of the girl’s death last week. Program manager Brenda Birrell told BuzzFeed News via email that the group plans to hand out 1,000 reusable pad kits — which also contain information about self-defense, female biology, and feminine hygiene — over the next two months.”

Women members of Kenyan’s Parliament occupied the Ministry of Education to pressure a police investigation. After parents and lawmakers held their ground, the police finally launched a formal investigation into the girl’s death.

“What must she be going through in her life to have that be her reaction?” Megan White Mukuria, whose organization ZanaAfrica Foundation provides pads and reproductive education to girls, told BuzzFeed. 

“The reality for a lot of women can be very difficult. [Maybe] her cup has not been filled, and her rights have not been taught to her.”