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She Didn’t Know Her Rape Led To A Pregnancy. Now, Her Stillbirth Has Landed Her A 30-Year Jail Sentence In El Salvador

National Geographic / @agrupacion_ciudadana / Instagram

A teenage rape victim from El Salvador has been sentenced to 30 years in jail for aggravated homicide. Evelyn Beatriz Hernández Cruz was 18 and in high school when she was raped and became pregnant. Hernández Cruz says she didn’t know she was pregnant, and after she delivered a stillborn baby in the bathroom unexpectedly, Salvadoran authorities arrested her for aggravated homicide. El Salvador has some of the most strict and complicated abortion laws in the world.

According to The Guardian, Hernández Cruz’s pregnancy was the result of repeated rapes from a gang member in a forced sexual relationship. The now-19-year-old was convicted because she failed to seek prenatal care for the fetus, reported The Guardian.

Hernández’ story is one in a larger narrative of women and girls who have gotten pregnant, had a miscarriage, and been sentenced to 30+ years in jail for aggravated homicide.

El Salvador’s strict abortion laws have led to authorities to arrest, charge, and convict numerous women to long sentences after suffering miscarriages.

“This is really complicated as the miscarriage is not a crime as such,” Dennis Muñoz, a defense attorney who represented Hernández, told National Geographic about El Salvador’s anti-abortion laws. “Despite it not being technically penalized, it is in fact penalized in practice.”

Defense attorney Dennis Muñoz told National Geographic that in El Salvador, women are immediately presumed guilty in the case of miscarriages and stillbirths.

According to Amnesty International, El Salvador has some of the most strict abortion laws in the world. In 1998, the government passed a total ban on abortion under any circumstances with jail sentences as the punishment for breaking that law. A woman who has a miscarriage and is found guilty of aggravated homicide can be sentenced to up to 50 years in prison. Amnesty International reports that because of the restrictive abortion laws, many women and girls in El Salvador take matters into their own hands by “ingesting rat poison or other pesticides, and thrusting knitting needles, pieces of wood and other sharp objects into the cervix, and the use of the ulcer treatment drug misoprostol.” Eleven percent of women who perform these abortions end up dying.

Earlier this year, a bill to decriminalize abortion was considered. However, nothing has come of the bill.

In April of this year, Newsweek reported that a bill was being considered to finally reverse the decades-long total criminalization of abortion. As of the time of this article, the bill had not made progress in Salvadoran politics and the law of the land continues to be a total ban on all abortions.

(H/T: The Guardian)


READ: Latina Texans Have Limited Access to Abortion Thanks to This Law

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After Three Years As A Political Prisoner, The Leader Of The Opposition In Venezuela Is Under House Arrest

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After Three Years As A Political Prisoner, The Leader Of The Opposition In Venezuela Is Under House Arrest

Federico Parra / Getty

The Venezuelan people have been protesting on the streets for over 100 days, demanding a change to their government and the release of political prisoners. On July 8, they scored what could be described as a partial victory: Leopoldo López, the former mayor of Chacao, Venezuela, has been set free after spending three years in prison. López, a political prisoner, was held at the Ramo Verde Prison in Los Teques, Venezuela and is now on house arrest.

Leopoldo López is on house arrest after spending three years in a military prison.

López was held at the Ramo Verde Prison for conspiracy, arson, property damage, and public incitement. An arrest warrant was filed for López after he called for protests in 2008 because the Venezuelan government blocked him and other opposition politicians from running for office. According to CNN, López was originally charged with murder and terrorism along with his other charges, but they were later dropped by prosecutors after he turned himself in.

López’s release from prison has been received positively, but Venezuelans are still calling for his full freedom to be restored, along with the release of all political prisoners.

“This is a step toward freedom, not just Leopoldo’s, but also a step that brings all Venezuelans closer to freedom,” Freddy Guevara, a lawmaker for the same party as López, told the press and crowd outside of López’ home according to The New York Times.

The international community sees this as a chance for Venezuela to begin a dialogue to address the crisis.

“I am not willing to give up my fight for the freedom of Venezuela,” López told the press through his attorney. “And if that means that I must return to a cell in Ramo Verde, I am willing to do so.”

López supporters gathered in front of his home to show solidarity with the opposition leader.

López is not allowed to give public statements as a condition of his release from Ramo Verde, according to The New York Times.

While López’ wife, Lilian Tintori, is happy that her husband has been released, she is not happy that other political prisoners remain behind bars.

Tintori told Christiane Amanpour that the Maduro government needs to release all political prisoners and to give them full freedom.


READ: Fed Up Venezuelans Unite Nationwide To Tell Maduro They’ve Had Enough

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