A Salvadoran rape survivor has been found not guilty of charges of homicide in a win for activists fighting to end the criminalisation of women suspected of having abortions.
Evelyn Hernandez, 21, was previously convicted of intentionally inducing an abortion and had already served three years of a 30-year prison sentence.
In February, the Supreme Court ordered Hernandez released and retried, saying that the original judge’s decision was based on prejudice and insufficient evidence.
“Thank God, justice was done,” Hernandez, in tears, told a cheering crowd outside the courthouse. “There are many women who are still locked up and I call for them to be freed soon, too.”
🇸🇻 An appeals court in El Salvador on Monday acquitted a 21-year-old rape victim accused of killing her stillborn baby, in a landmark case closely watched by rights groups https://t.co/D9Kkl4nYwx
📷 Oscar Rivera pic.twitter.com/guRwPlXjkN
— AFP news agency (@AFP) August 19, 2019
Hernandez was raped by a gang member and said she was unaware of her pregnancy until just before she gave birth to a stillborn son in April 2016.
“This is a resounding victory for the rights of women in El Salvador,” Erika Guevara-Rosas, Amnesty International’s Americas director, said about the verdict.
Some 147 Salvadoran women have been sentenced to up to 40 years in prison in such cases between 2000 and 2014, according to a local group supporting the decriminalisation of abortion.
“We can’t lose sight of the fact that there are many more women whose liberty has been unjustly taken from them. We’re moving forward, and we want to keep fighting for the freedom of the others just like we were able to do for Evelyn,” said Hernandez’s lawyer, Bertha Deleon.