In El Salvador, one of the most dangerous countries in the world, suffering a miscarriage can condemn you to 30 years in prison. Miscarriage is not intentionally provoked. It occurs when an embryo dies before the twelfth week of pregnancy. The factors that can cause a miscarriage vary. They can be genetic or chromosomal of the same fetus, exposure to environmental toxins, hormonal or maternal health problems – such as chronic malnutrition, for example. So when a woman suffers a miscarriage, it is considered a medical emergency.
This is the case of 17 young Salvadorans, but the viciousness, ignorance and misogyny are mixed with a politics of femicidal state, which has given them sentences and has sent them to prison. They are women under 30, poor, who had obstetric problems during their pregnancy, but did not have access to quality medical care. They arrived bleeding to health centers and were denounced, prosecuted and condemned. They were told murderers. They were sent from the hospital to jail.
They had the right to an effective defense, to the presumption of innocence. Their lawyers came to the trials without knowing their names. State violence, institutionalized sexist violence. In April 2014 the civil association that defends them requested 17 pardons, without success.
And pardons were requested because a reduction of sentence is not enough. If they put you prisoner at 18, for 30 years, and reduce your sentence by half, you leave when you are 33 without education or technical training, without emotional ties or a support network. You return to the environment of poverty and violence from which you arrived without options, without the opportunity to move forward. But if the state does not recognize your responsibility, you can not demand compensation and your sentence is even greater.
Currently we have the advantage of historical perspective, we can look back and understand what is happening as a watershed, a point of inflection (hindsight is a gift). We are struggling for the extension of rights, in a similar way as did the women who fought to give us citizenship, the right to vote. Thanks to women who fought today we can study, be landowners, we can decide. Our daughters and granddaughters will look back, they will see our struggle and they will know that this was a struggle of years, a struggle of all, to be able to decide on the most intimate, on our own body. And as Simone said, if the rights over our own bodies are not conquered, the political battle for our rights can not even begin.