Things That Matter

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

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

Share this story with all of your friends by tapping that little share button below!

A Florida School Resource Officer Has Been Fired For Putting Two 6-Year-Old Children In Handcuffs

Things That Matter

A Florida School Resource Officer Has Been Fired For Putting Two 6-Year-Old Children In Handcuffs

An Orlando, Florida police offer was fired after arresting two 6-year-old black children at school. The officer suspected the two 6-year-old committed “misdemeanor battery.” In both incidents, the officer handcuffed the first graders with zip ties. The firing comes after public outcries of support for the 6-year-old girl, who many felt was grotesquely mistreated by the police officer. To anyone who understands institutional racism and the school-to-prison pipeline, this comes as no surprise. 

The school-to-prison pipeline is the path through which unfair treatment of adolescents leads to involvement in the criminal justice system. However, efforts to correct this problem often fail to include black girls, who are six times more likely to receive an out-of-school suspension than their white counterparts,” writes Mackenzie Chakra for American Progress.

Research shows that black children are perceived as less innocent than white children, and as early as age 5 black girls are viewed as older than white girls of the same age. Black children are 10 times more likely to face discipline for typical childhood behavior like tantrums or class disruptions. 

Fortunately, this is a rare case where the two children were not fully processed and eaten up by the system. 

How does a 6-year-old commit misdemeanor battery? 

WFTV spoke to Meralyn Kirkland the 6-year-old’s grandmother. Kirkland says that her daughter has sleep apnea and is prone to temper tantrums because she is exhausted a lot of the time. Teachers are aware of the girl’s condition. However, one day the girl kicked a staff member which prompted police intervention. I am sure the kick hurt a lot and the full-grown adult is seriously injured (not). 

The 6-year-old was arrested and brought to a Juvenile Assessment Center where Kirkland discovered her granddaughter had been arrested for battery. 

“I asked them for her, and they told me she was currently in process of being fingerprinted. And I think when they said fingerprinted is when it hit home to me. And I’m, like, fingerprinted? And they said yes, and they escorted me into an office and on the desk in that officer were two mugshot pictures of my 6-year-old granddaughter,” Kirkland said.

When Orlando police found out the officer did not get his supervisor’s approval for arresting the girl, they say they stopped the little one from being fully processed. However, Kirkland is less convinced because she has paperwork that requires her granddaughter to appear in court for the battery charge. Reporters are unsure of the events that led to the arrest of the second child on the same day. 

The officer is fired

Initially, the officer was arrested, but he has now been fired. Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolón said the situation made him “sick to his stomach.” 

“When I first learned about this, we were all appalled and we could not fathom the idea of a 6-year-old being put in the back of a police car,” Rolón said at a news conference. “It’s still shocking to us. To have something like this happen was completely and totally a surprise to all of us.”

Department officials claim that the resource officer has a strict policy that prohibits officers from arresting children under the age of 12 without approval from their manager. 

“It was clear today when I came into work that there was no other remedy than to terminate this officer,” Rolón said.

The resource officer in question does not have a clean record himself, in 1998 he was charged with aggravated child abuse after bruises and welts were discovered on his 7-year-old son. He was also subjected to four internal investigations (two of which were for excessive force as recent as 2016), and in another incident, the resource officer threatened the husband of a woman he had been dating. So it is really cool of this school to have this man around children and for the police force to have employed him for years (not). 

Charges dropped against 6-year-old 

State Attorney for Orange and Osceola counties Aramis Ayala said she had no intention of prosecuting either 6-year-old.  

“I can assure you that there will be no criminal prosecution for a misdemeanor battery for these elementary children in my name or on my watch,” Ayala said. “Unlike some, I will not presume guilt or dangerousness of a child based on any demographic.”

Ayala hopes to stop the school to prison pipeline where it starts by choosing not to prosecute literal children for misbehaving at school. 

“We must explore better options as a state. We must raise the expectations of how we respond in difficult situations,” Ayala said. “This is not a reflection on the children, but more of a reflection of a broken system that is in need of reform. It’s time to address juvenile legislation in ways that better protect the interests of children and their development.”

Woman Claims Lyft Charged Her For A Ride That Resulted In Her Severe Gang Rape

Fierce

Woman Claims Lyft Charged Her For A Ride That Resulted In Her Severe Gang Rape

Being a woman means you’re always in danger. Predators lurk everywhere and for Alison Turkos, unfortunately, a Lyft ride home would become every woman’s worst nightmare. Turkos, among dozens of other women, is suing Lyft after she says her driver kidnapped her and gang-raped her along with two men. Turkos believes that Lyft is obstructing justice by not cooperating with law enforcement. 

Moreover, she believes that the driver who raped her has continued to work for the company for years. This is her story. 

Alison Turkos tells her story in Medium

“In the fall of 2017, I got into a Lyft after a night out with friends. All I wanted to do was get home safely and go to bed. This was supposed to be the safer option than walking home or taking the subway late at night alone. What should have been a 15-minute drive, turned into an 80-minute living nightmare,” Turkos wrote in an essay for Medium

Turkos says her Lyft driver kidnapped her at gunpoint, drove her across state lines, and the driver along with two other men (at least) raped her. 

Apologies for the “inconvenience”

Turkos reported the kidnapping to Lyft within 24 hours. Turkos claims they merely apologized for the inconvenience. 

“Lyft ‘apologized for the inconvenience that I’d been through’ and informed me they ‘appreciated the voice of their customers and were committed to doing their best in giving me the support that I needed,’” she wrote. 

She had to pay the $12.81 in carfare. Turkos says the driver who raped her has continued to work for Lyft in the years since. This to her is all the evidence she needs to sue — not to get justice for herself — but to prevent future incidents like it. Lyft must be held accountable. 

Lyft’s inaction is triggering

Turkos reported the rape and kidnapping to the police two days after. But Turkos says the fact that her driver is still out there living consequence-free despite all the evidence (GPS phone tracking, customer service transcript, police reports, DNA of two men), has worsened her PTSD. 

“Lyft’s failure to remove the driver from the app, and allow him to continue driving under a new name and profile has not only exacerbated my PTSD and inability to feel safe, but has also placed other passengers lives at risk,” she wrote. “How many other passengers has this man harmed while on Lyft’s payroll in the two years since I reported?”

Lyft’s Statement

Lyft’s position on the matter? Rape happens to women all the time so it’s not their fault. Another insult to sexual assault survivors everywhere.

“What this rider describes is awful, and something no one should have to endure,” a Lyft spokesperson told Motherboard. “The unfortunate fact remains that one in six women will face some form of sexual violence in their lives — behavior that’s unacceptable for our society and on our platform. In this case, the driver passed the New York City TLC’s background check and was permitted to drive.” 

Lyft has since added 14 new safety features including in-app emergency assistance and background check monitoring. But this isn’t an isolated incident. Last month, Lyft faced another lawsuit by 14 women who say they were raped by Lyft drivers. This would bring the total to 26 Lyft users since August 1, 2019, who claim Lyft failed to protect them from sexual violence. 

Why Turkos is suing Lyft

Turkos, along with the many other women believe Lyft is purposefully stone-walling their cases. By suing they hope to challenge the processes by which Lyft handles sexual assault claims. 

“The plaintiffs accuse the company of refusing to cooperate with law enforcement and failing to adequately screen potential drivers,” according to CBS. Moreover, multiple women, not only Turkos, claim that the drivers who raped them were allowed to continuing working for the company or that Lyft would not tell them if the driver had been terminated. 

“Lyft’s failure to properly investigate the failures of their system that lead to my kidnapping and rape has severely hampered the ongoing criminal investigation,” Turkos wrote. “Lyft’s feeble public response to viral tweets and other lawsuits has made a mockery of me and the other victims who have come forward. We don’t want partial refunds. We don’t want $5 credits to continue using your service.” 

It cannot go without saying: believe women. There is no glory in coming forward as a rape survivor just more triggering events and more scrutiny. Women do not come forward for attention, they come forward for justice.