Adsense Skyscrapper

Woman sent to prison for suffering a miscarriage


The news from the US that women face tighter restrictions on abortion has been felt in El Salvador, which itself has very strict laws preventing access.

In February, four women sat down before the full glare of El Salvador’s press. Between them, they had served nearly 50 years in prison.

Their crime was to have the misfortune of suffering a miscarriage – in a country with one of the strictest abortion laws in the world.

Among them was Elsy.

In June 2011, Elsy was pregnant and working as a domestic worker in her hometown. She remembers going to the toilet at work, where she apparently passed out.

When she came to a little later, she was surrounded by police officers. Her baby was gone. Her boss had reported her for terminating the pregnancy.

At her trial, Elsy was sentenced to 30 years for aggravated homicide. She served 10 before campaigners managed to get her sentence shortened.

“I felt terrible in prison, all I could think of was the 30 years,” Elsy told the BBC. “I thought I’d never see my mother or any of my family again.”

Elsy tried to distract herself in jail. She got her high school diploma, participated in workshops and volunteered at the prison church.

Yet it wasn’t enough to stop her from entering a dark place in her head.

“I just kept thinking, ‘Why? Why did those who testified against me do this?'”

Now back living with her family, Elsy says her sentence was simply an “injustice which happens” in El Salvador. She points out there are many still going through what she did.

As recently as May, a woman identified as “Esme” was sentenced to 30 years, also for aggravated homicide following a miscarriage.

But protests have been difficult since the country’s controversial president, Nayib Bukele, imposed a state of exception giving the police wide-ranging powers of arrest.

Mariana Moisa is one of the leading women’s rights activists in El Salvador. She is part of the “green wave” abortion rights movement sweeping across Latin America.

Ms Moisa says their battle isn’t just to free the women or even change the law, but to shift attitudes in society.

“We have to keep working, it depends on us and not the political parties”, she says at her organisation’s headquarters in San Salvador. “We have to face up to our reality and promote real cultural changes.”

Over in the United States, the US Supreme Court has overturned a ruling that made abortion a constitutional right.

Campaigners like Ms Moisa fear this will strengthen the hand of conservatives across Central America.

The US would do well to look south, she warns, to see how an outright ban can lead to “denying women their freedom in these circumstances”.


Source: BBC

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.