El Salvadorian teenager sentenced to 30 years imprisonment after miscarriage freed

Campaigners remain concerned about the fate of 16 further women in prison under similar circumstances

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The Independent US

Campaigners celebrated yesterday after a teenage El Salvadorian rape victim jailed for 30 years for suffering a miscarriage was pardoned – but cautioned 16 more women remain in prison for similar ‘crimes’.

The domestic worker, named only as ‘Guadalupe’, fell foul of El Salvador’s regressive anti-abortion laws, which forbids abortion under any circumstances.

Aged 18, after being raped, she is understood to have given birth to a stillborn baby at the house where she worked. Scared and alone, she returned to work the following day - still bleeding - but was taken to a local hospital after her employer noticed.

El Salvadorian authorities wrongly suspected her of trying to abort the child, and charged her with aggravated murder.

She served seven years of her sentence before Congress eventually approved a pardon yesterday to lift her sentence.

“With this decision, El Salvador has undone a terrible injustice. Guadalupe should have never been jailed in the first place. This release is a triumph of justice and a result of the tireless work by local human rights activists,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

Despite this success, campaigners for the Center for Reproductive Rights called for similar action to help free the other 16 women still imprisoned. All are serving 30-40 year sentences.

President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights Nancy Northup said: “Guadalupe’s release from prison is an important step toward justice for her and many other women whose human rights have been violated by El Salvador’s extreme anti-abortion laws, but more must be done.”

Known as the ‘Las17’, the women bear the brunt of El Salvador’s brutal anti-abortion policies. The laws give no reason for abortion, and criminalise the women and the doctors who carry out terminations, forcing many desperate individuals to dangerous back-street clinics.

In 1994 the third most prevalent cause of death among adolescent girls was pregnancy and postpartum complications.