The campaign for women’s rights persists.
Conformed to two options, women and girls carrying an unwanted pregnancy must either continue with their pregnancy or pursue clandestine methods. This is the reality thousands of females in El Salvador struggle against every day.
Abortion in all circumstances, was banned in 1998 meaning women would face a severe sentence of two to eight years for abortion and those found guilty of assisting her face six to twelve years imprisonment.
The risk is especially great for young girls and those in poorer areas.
Shockingly women with miscarriages have also been charged with aggravated homicide which can lead to up to 50 years imprisonment.
María Teresa Rivera, a 28-year-old single parent is currently serving a 40-year prison sentence for having a miscarriage. One day she felt the urgent need to use the toilet and she was later found bleeding on the bathroom floor. After being rushed to the hospital, unaware that she was pregnant, a member of staff had reported her to the police.
Her story reveals the lack of confidential assistance provided in El Salvador and the unjust treatment of women in her situation.
Women in El Salvador are forced to resort to unimaginable modes of abortion. Some of the gut-wrenching methods used by women and girls to terminate their pregnancies vary from ingesting rat poison or other pesticides to thrusting knitting needles or sharp objects into the cervix.
According to the Ministry of Health there were 19,290 clandestine abortions between 2005 and 2008. 11% of women and girls who underwent clandestine abortion in El Salvador died as a result.
Furthermore, suicide accounts for 57 % of the deaths of pregnant females aged 10 to 19, although numerous cases are likely to have been unreported.
Another harrowing account from a doctor explains the treatment of a nine-year-old pregnant girl
who survived rape and had to continue her pregnancy: “She had been abused since infancy. She fell
pregnant and… it was a very difficult case…That case marked us a lot perhaps because she didn’t
understand what was happening to her…”
A psychiatrist describes the emotional and psychological effects, “Obliging an adolescent to carry on
with such a pregnancy is torture because it means exposing a girl to experiencing all the changes
that come with pregnancy, feeling the baby move, and therefore constantly remembering what
happened to her… We are torturing them”
Not only does the law lead women and girls to greater risks but it also compounds the effects on
rape-victims who are forced to continue with their pregnancy.
In summary, El Salvador’s anti-abortion laws have resulted in brutal consequences for Women. With
the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in Latin America and 1,346 registered rapes El Salvador must
protect and support its women.
El Salvador needs to provide sexual health centres to offer confidential, non-discriminatory and
informative help. The fear placed on women, victims of rape, vulnerable and helpless girls is an
unsettling thought. A newspaper poll in 2013 revealed 74 per cent of people polled in El Salvador
favoured an abortion when a woman’s life is at risk however needless death of women continues.
Governments should be in place to protect their citizens, not kill them. The result of the anti-
abortion law has destroyed the integrity and power women should have and hold; instead many
have resorted to taking their lives as they cannot cope with the social conditions compounded by
their own government.
Now it’s time for you to help us; Join Amnesty International at RHUL in our protest to protect those
who are denied their fundamental right to make their own decisions about their own bodies which
affect their own lives. Information about events on campus can be found on our facebook page here: