In El Salvador, a woman who spent four years in prison for miscarrying her baby is finally freed.
According to Amnesty International, the woman’s case is a great win for human rights.
María Teresa Rivera, 33, was imprisoned and sentenced to serve 40 years behind bars for ‘aggravated homicide’ after she suffered a miscarriage.
“The release of María Teresa is yet another step towards justice in a country where women are treated as mere second-class citizens,” Erika Guevara-Rosas said, Americas Director at Amnesty International. “She should have never been forced to spend one second behind bars.”
“Her release must be a catalyst for change in El Salvador, where dozens of women are put in prison because of an utterly ridiculous anti-abortion law which does nothing but put the lives of thousands of women and girls in danger,” Guevara-Rosas added.
In 2011, Rivera was arrested in a hospital after her mother-in-law found her in the bathroom of her home, bleeding heavily and borderline unconscious.
The hospital staff then reported her to the police and accused her of aborting her pregnancy.
During the court trial, one of Rivera’s employers testified against her and said that she knew she was pregnant in January 2011. This outrageous accusation would have made her 11 months pregnant by the time the miscarriage happened.
However, the employer’s court testimony was used as a piece of evidence to convict her.
Rivera’s release came after a judge ruled that there was not enough evidence to prove the charges against the 33-year-old.
Abortion in El Salvador has been banned in all situations, even when the pregnancy is the result of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is at risk, a change in the Penal Code in 1998 reads.
The change in the abortion law has led to unjust prosecutions and misapplication of criminal law where women are instantly assumed guilty.
Women with few resources in El Salvador are directly affected by the ban.