El Salvador frees woman jailed over miscarriage

The 29-year-old woman had served six years out of a 10-year sentence for ‘aggravated homicide’ under El Salvador’s abortion laws. She was eight months pregnant when she had a miscarriage in a shopping mall bathroom.

Authorities in El Salvador on Wednesday released a woman who suffered an apparent miscarriage but was convicted of killing her baby.

Cindy Erazo, 29, had served six years of her 10-year prison sentence for aggravated homicide, issued under El Salvador’s strict abortion laws.

Erazo was eight months pregnant when she had a miscarriage in the toilets of a shopping center on the outskirts of the capital, San Salvador. She was then taken to hospital where authorities accused her of attempting to abort the fetus.

She said she had an involuntary miscarriage, but she was handed a 30-year sentence on charges of having had an abortion. The verdict was later changed to aggravated homicide and the sentence reduced to 10 years.

“Cindy’s case brought international attention to the horrible reality of the extreme prohibition on abortion in El Salvador and the insidious culture of persecuting innocent women that it perpetuates,” said Paula Avila Guillen, executive director of the Center for Women’s Equality.

Read more:UN rights rapporteur raps El Salvador on killings, prisons 

El Salvador’s abortion laws

Erazo’s release “confirms that justice is possible if we unite,” said Morena Herrera from the Citizens’ Group for the Decriminalization of Abortion.

Human rights groups say that at least 18 innocent women are currently in prison for similar cases in El Salvador. The country’s law criminalizes all abortions and subjects both women and doctors to prosecution.

Carmen Martinez from the Center for Reproductive Rights said El Salvador had received countless recommendations from international human rights organizations to improve the sexual and reproductive rights of women and girls.

Read more: El Salvador: Retrial for woman accused of abortion

lc/rt (AP, dpa)

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