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In El Salvador, woman tried for homicide after miscarriage risks third trial


Evelyn Hernandez was sentenced to 30 years in prison in 2017 and acquitted in August. The Attorney General appealed.

San Salvador, September 9th. Feminists demonstrate in front of the public prosecutor's office to demand that charges be dropped against Evelyn Hernandez. REUTERS / Jose Cabezas JOSE CABEZAS / REUTERS

Salvadoran justice is working on Evelyn Hernandez. First sentenced to 30 years in prison in 2017 for homicide while she had been miscarried, bleached at her appeal on August 19 after almost three years behind bars, the 21-year-old risk of facing a third trial, after the Attorney General appealed on Friday, September 6, for his acquittal.

Read also Salvador: Acquittal of Evelyn Hernandez, tried for homicide after losing his baby

"This call is the manifestation of the legal protection of the main legal asset, which is the life of a helpless being who absolutely depends on the care of his mother," the prosecutor's office said. "Evelyn Hernandez is a victim of nothing at all, on the contrary, the only victim is her son," added the institution, responding to criticism of judicial persecution against the young woman. A prison sentence of forty years is required against her.

Gang-controlled neighborhood

On April 6, 2016, Evelyn Hernandez, who was still a teenager, had been found bathing in her restroom. She was taken to the Cojutepeque Hospital, forty kilometers east of the capital San Salvador, where she was reported by doctors who suspected an abortion. The authorities had found the lifeless body of a baby in the septic tank of his house. After six days in the hospital, she was then arrested and charged with homicide.

Initially, Evelyn Hernandez was said to have become pregnant after a rape, but her lawyer said she prefers not to mention these circumstances at the request of the young woman, who lives in a gang-controlled neighborhood and reportedly may have been subject to reprisals. Evelyn Hernandez always said she did not know she was pregnant at the time of the miscarriage.

The Salvadoran Penal Code provides for imprisonment of between two and eight years in all cases of abortion, even when the life of the pregnant woman is endangered by pregnancy. But, in fact, the judges consider any loss of the fetus as an "aggravated homicide" , punishable by thirty to fifty years of imprisonment.

San Salvador, September 9th. A feminist activist spreads red paint at the entrance of the prosecutor's office to denounce judicial harassment against Evelyn Hernandez. REUTERS / Jose Cabezas JOSE CABEZAS / REUTERS

"It's a shame that we continue to criminally prosecute a woman without proof," tweeted one of the young woman's lawyers, Bertha Maria Deleon. "This call is another example of the discriminatory trend of prosecutors in El Salvador," said Amnesty International's Central American researcher Astrid Valencia. It is appalling that despite a verdict that has confirmed Evelyn's innocence, the state continues to want to pursue it. "

"Country machiste"

On Monday, 9 September, feminists gathered in front of the public prosecutor's office to demand that charges be dropped against the young woman. Disguised as clowns, activists have smeared red paint at the entrance of the building. "We're here because we believe in Evelyn's innocence, we're not going to leave her alone, we're here today and we'll be back tomorrow until justice is done," said a feminist. while other demonstrators chanted: "Feminism will win, patriarchy will fall! "

The girl is not accused of "abortion, but of homicide of a person," repeated Monday the Attorney General, Raul Melara. "Some groups have an interest in getting the impression that this is a persecution of poverty, of a woman who has had a hospitable emergency, but the overwhelming evidence shows that it has not been this was the case, " he insisted in front of the local press, justifying the holding of a third trial and castigating the " violence " of the demonstrators.

Read also The Simone-de-Beauvoir prize awarded to a Salvadoran woman for her fight for the right to abortion

"You know that you live in a macho country when the focus of attention is focused on spots on a wall and not on the violence suffered by an unjustly pursued woman," tweeted feminist activist Sara Garcia Gross, a member of the Citizen Association for the Decriminalization of Abortion, which presented in 2016 a bill to decriminalize abortion in cases of rape, the situation of trafficking in women, danger to the life of the pregnant woman and serious malformation fetus.

Currently, sixteen women are in prison in El Salvador for abortions. Most of them come from rural and poor backgrounds. In recent months, five women sentenced for similar cases have been released.

Angeline Montoya

Source: lemonde

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