Jailed in El Salvador after losing their pregnancies

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26 Nov 2014, San Salvador, El Salvador --- (141126) -- SAN SALVADOR, Nov. 26, 2014 (Xinhua) -- Women of different feminist organizations take part in a march asking for the freedom of 17 women accused of abortion, on the International Day of the Elimination of Violence Against Women, in San Salvador, capital of El Salvador, Nov. 25, 2014. United Nations figures showed that 35 percent of the women and children in the world suffer from physical or sexual violence throughout their life. And in some countries and regions, the figure goes up --- Image by © [e]LUIS GALDAMEZ/Xinhua Press/Corbis

(Xinhua Press/Corbis)

For many of us around the world, Mother’s Day falls on May 8th this year, which also marks Teodora’s 36th birthday. Teodora has spent eight years in prison, and will spend yet another birthday and another Mother’s Day, which comes just two days after ours, without her family. 

Amnesty campaigner Karen Javorski takes us inside one of El Salvador’s most notorious prisons to meet Teodora del Carmen Vásquez and María Teresa Rivera, women jailed after pregnancy complications.

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Sentenced to Eight Years in Jail for a Miscarriage

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By Debbie Sharnak, Argentina-Paraguay country specialist and Magdalena Medley, Women’s Human Rights thematic specialist

A 27-year-old woman, known as Belén to protect her identity, has spent the past two years in pre-trial detention accused of self-inducting a miscarriage. After the accusations, Belén was arrested by authorities because abortion is illegal in Argentina except under certain circumstances. Belén, however, denies these allegations and tells a different story. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Fleeing for Our Lives: Central American Migrant Crisis

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WATCH LIVE: Human Rights Implications of Protecting People on the Move in the Americas

Migration from Central America to the U.S. is not a new phenomenon, however the reasons, or push factors that are causing people to migrate or flee have changed. The Northern Triangle of Central America (“NTCA”), composed of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, is considered one of the most dangerous places on earth, which has caused unprecedented levels of migration. The United Nations High Commissioner for refugees has called this a humanitarian crisis. Many Central Americans are refugees who like Syrians, are fleeing for their lives.

A one-year-old from El Salvador clings to his mother  ( John Moore/Getty Images)

A one-year-old from El Salvador clings to his mother ( John Moore/Getty Images)

While the United States has seen a record in asylum applications in recent years, Central American countries are dealing with larger migratory flows from the NTCA within their borders. According a 2014 UNHCR report, Mexico, Belize, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama  have had a 432% increase in asylum applications. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Deadly Force Knows No Borders

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On March 15th, the International Day against Police Brutality will again remind the world of the lives lost and communities changed forever due to the unlawful use of deadly force by police.

Last year, we released our “Deadly Force” report, highlighting the increasing number of individuals killed by police in the United States. One of the most disturbing findings of the report, noted that all 50 states and Washington, D.C. fail to comply with international law and standards on the use of lethal force by law enforcement officers, and with more than 16,000 police departments across the country, the lack of consistency is evident.  SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Whom would you suspect of killing Berta Cáceres?

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“Defending human rights in Honduras is a crime. They are criminalizing the right to our [indigenous] identity and sense of self.”
-Berta Cáceres, 2013

Gunmen brutally murdered Berta Cáceres, award-winning leader of the Council of Indigenous and Popular Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), in La Esperanza, Honduras on March 3, 2016. Almost immediately, the Honduran authorities jumped to the conclusion that she must have been killed in a robbery.

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What It Takes to Defend Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Rights – New Report Released on SRR Defenders in the Americas

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Marlene was accused and charged with having an abortion in El Salvador after she had a miscarriage when she was 18 years old.

Marlene was accused and charged with having an abortion in El Salvador after she had a miscarriage when she was 18 years old.

By Christina V. Harris

Wasn’t the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade made over 40 years ago now? And the landmark stance by the United Nations Human Rights Committee on the case of KL v. Peru made just around a decade ago? Sometimes in today’s climate, it’s hard to remember the answer is “yes” to both of these questions. Yes, women in the United States and internationally have been lawfully confirmed in their right to seek a safe, legal abortion and to make decisions and inquire into information about their bodies, their health, and their futures. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

What’s the State of Human Rights Around the World?

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In 2015, Amnesty International investigated the human rights situation in 160 countries and territories worldwide. Progress continued in some areas, but many people and communities faced grave human rights abuses.

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At least 113 countries arbitrarily restricted freedom of expression and the press. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Dominican Republic’s Absurd Laws Shatters Star Boxer’s Promising Career

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Adonis was born in the Dominican Republic in 1994 to Haitians parents. His birth was never registered because his parents lack of documents. This results in statelessness. The lack of identity documents for Adonis means that he faces many obstacles to work and enjoy his passions in life. For example, Adonis had to stop practicing baseball for lacking ID card. Now he practices boxing, but is under pressure to secure ID card.

Adonis was born in the Dominican Republic in 1994 to Haitians parents. His birth was never registered because his parents lack of documents. This results in statelessness.

By Josefina Salomón, News Writer at Amnesty International

When Adonis Peguero Louis won the pre-selection test to join the Dominican Republic’s national boxing team, the young man’s future played before him.

As if watching a film, he saw himself headlining fights across the country, traveling to arenas in cities he had only visited through the small TV screen that rests in the corner of his crammed living room, coming face-to-face with his childhood heroes. He vividly imagined becoming a hero himself — the kind that starts life with empty pockets but then manages to save all those around him from poverty. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

What El Salvador’s Total Abortion Ban Means for Women and Girls

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Portrait of Teodora Vasquez at her prison in El Salvador. She had been sentenced for 30 years after having an stillbirth out of suspicions of having had an abortion. In 2008, Teodora del Carmen Vásquez was sentenced to 30 years in prison for “aggravated homicide” after suffering a still-birth at work. Teodora, mother of an 11-year-old boy, was expecting a new baby when she started experiencing increasingly severe pain. She called the emergency services but her waters broke soon afterwards. She went into labour, and was unconscious when she gave birth. When she came round, bleeding profusely, her baby was dead. Police at the scene handcuffed her and arrested her on suspicion of murder. Only then did they take her to hospital where she could get the urgent treatment she needed. In El Salvador, women who miscarry or suffer a still-birth during pregnancy are routinely suspected of having had an “abortion”. Abortion under any circumstance is a crime, even in cases of rape, incest, or where a woman’s life is at risk. This makes women afraid to seek help with pregnancy-related problems, leading inevitably to more preventable deaths.

Portrait of Teodora Vasquez at her prison in El Salvador. She had been sentenced for 30 years after having an stillbirth out of suspicions of having had an abortion.

By Linda Veazey, AIUSA Board Member 

In 1998, El Salvador outlawed abortion under any circumstances, including cases where the life or health of the woman is at risk; where pregnancies are the result of rape or incest; and in cases of severe fetal abnormalities. El Salvador’s total ban violates the human rights of thousands of women and girls.

In cases like Teodora del Carmen Vásquez, some women have even been sentenced to several decades in prison even though they did not have an abortion!  In 2008, Teodora was sentenced to 30 years in prison for “aggravated homicide” after suffering a still-birth at work.  Amnesty found that Teodora was presumed guilty after she received an unfair trial in which her family could not afford effective legal representation. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Reaping the Harvest of Fear: The Obama Administration Deports Asylum Seekers

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Central American migrants walk over the tracks to catch the train north, Tierra Blanca, Veracruz, Mexico, 28 June 2009.  Junio 28, 2009. Líneas férreas de Tierra Blanca, Veracruz, México. Migrantes centroamericanos en espera de la salida del tren hacia el norte. Migrants make their way toward Mexico’s northern border by foot, bus and most commonly on the top of a network of freight trains. Here migrants in Tierra Blanca, Veracruz state, board “La Bestia” (The Beast) also known as “El tren de la muerte” (The Death Train).

Central American migrants walk over the tracks to catch the train north, Tierra Blanca, Veracruz, Mexico, 28 June 2009.

By Esmeralda López and Adotei Akwei

Urias (a 32-year-old mother from Usulután Province, El Salvador) says ICE agents showed up at the door of her apartment in Atlanta at 11 a.m. Sunday, but she wouldn’t let them in. Then they called her and said they were actually there because her ankle monitor was broken. So she opened the door. Once inside, they told her to get her kids together and go with them. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST