Salvador Melendez / AP
A young woman from El Salvador who was convicted of aggravated murder after losing her pregnancy was acquitted during a retrial.
El Salvador has one of the most stringent abortion laws in the world – it is not authorized under any circumstances.
21-year-old Evelyn Beatrice Hernández said she was raped by a gang member and did not know she was pregnant. In 2016, she gave birth in a toilet and her mother discovered that she had disappeared next to her.
At the hospital, doctors told her she had given birth, according to the BBC. "She was arrested after her baby's body was found in a septic tank on the toilet," the presenter reported. It is unclear whether the stillbirth died in the septic tank. Forensic experts could not decide, according to the Associated Press.
Hernandez was convicted of aggravated murder and sentenced to 30 years in prison in 2017. Earlier this year, the country's Supreme Court ordered a retrial , saying the first sentence was "based on prejudice and insufficient evidence," according to Reuters.
She was acquitted on Monday. "Thank God the justice was done," tearful Hernandez told a crowd in court, the news service reported. "There are many women who are still incarcerated and I call for them to be released soon."
Amnesty International said that in El Salvador "at least 19 women remain in prison or continue to be charged in these circumstances."
"This is a magnificent victory for women's rights in El Salvador," says Erika Guevara-Rosas, director of America at Amnesty. "Reaffirms that no woman should be blamed for murder because of the simple fact that had an obstetric emergency. "
Hernandez says that" if I knew I was a burden oon, I can not wait [the birth] pride and joy, "says BBC.
Many women get abortions in El Salvador, despite restrictive laws. A report from the Center for Reproductive Rights estimates that nearly 250,000 occurred between 1995 and 2000 – "with 11.1% of them leading to the death of a pregnant woman."
CPR stated that the Salvadoran organization, Agrupación Ciudadana para la Despenalización del Aborto Terapéutico, Ético y Eugenésico, analyzed data on women prosecuted for abortion crimes. "The women most affected by the criminalization of El Salvador's abortion are young women of lower socioeconomic class," the organization concludes.
As in the case of Hernandez, many of the women who were prosecuted were blamed by health care providers.