El Salvador – Maria Teresa thanks supporters after release from jail

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First portraits of Maria Teresa Rivera free. She spent 4 years in prison before a court dropped the charges against her on 20 May 2016. María Teresa was one of "Las 17" group of women in prison out of suspicion of having had an abortion.

First portraits of Maria Teresa Rivera free. She spent 4 years in prison before a court dropped the charges against her on 20 May 2016. María Teresa was one of “Las 17” group of women in prison out of suspicion of having had an abortion.

By Maria Teresa Rivera

On 20 May 2016, Maria Teresa Rivera was finally freed from prison in El Salvador after a judge dismissed the charges against her. In 2011, she had been given a 40-year sentence after suffering a miscarriage. Thousands of people across the world rallied to her cause. This is her thank you message to everyone.  

I want to thank everyone who supported me and who never left me alone, everyone who believed in me and always said that I was innocent even though you did not know me. This was very special to me.  SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

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

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

Girls Should be Students, not Brides

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Shelter for survivors of forced marriage in Kaya city, northeast Burkina Faso.

By Naureen Shameem, Amnesty USA Women’s Human Rights Coordination Group

What is it that enables you to make your life your own? Could you meaningfully choose your own life if your sphere of opportunity had been cut off as a child?

Globally, at least 25,000 children are married every day. 1 in 9 marry before the age of 15. Although the prevalence of child marriage worldwide has received more coverage in recent years, the rates remain staggering.

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It’s Time for Chile to Change Its Restrictive Abortion Laws

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By Leah Schmidt, Identity and Discrimination Unit, Amnesty International USA

In July 2013, an 11-year-old girl became pregnant after having been raped repeatedly for two years by her stepfather. However, ending the pregnancy was not an option for her. In Chile, where she lives, abortion is outlawed in all cases, even in cases of rape and even for children. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

One Vote Made the Difference for Guadalupe!

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The hands of Beatriz who almost died waiting for permission to terminate a pregnancy that could have killed her.

Thanks to everyone who took part in the very urgent social media action to free Guadalupe!

Guadalupe is one of 17 Salvadoran women who were sentenced to 12 to 40 years in prison after suffering miscarriages. The only legal option left for these women is a pardon. Last week, the Salvadoran National Assembly failed to approve a pardon for Guadalupe by just one vote. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Help Beatriz with One More Request: Stand Up for Other Women & Girls

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Beatriz ThanksAs you know, activism inside El Salvador (led by the Citizens’ Group for the Decriminalization of Abortion) and around the globe helped save Beatriz, the young Salvadoran mother whose life was jeopardized by the absolute ban on abortion in El Salvador.

We would like to share a note that Beatriz wrote to express her gratitude to all those who took part in this effort:

To my friends from the Colectivo Feminista and everywhere else:

I want to thank you for having supported me all the way, and without you I think I wouldn’t have been able to stand being in the hospital.

I also want to thank you for all the actions you took for my life.

This situation has been very difficult and without your support I wouldn’t have been able to get through it.

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Why is El Salvador Cruelly Punishing Women Who Need Medical Help?

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Ireland is not the only nation with strict abortion laws that cost women their lives.

Since 1998, El Salvador has had a total ban on abortions, under any circumstances. In March of this year, Salvadoran police arrested a woman (“Mery”) when she sought medical treatment after a clandestine abortion. The medical providers reported her to the police—as required by law. In addition to the physical complications associated with the abortion, she showed clear signs of emotional distress and panic.

Instead of providing “Mery” with counseling, the authorities sentenced her to two years in El Salvador’s violent, overcrowded prison system. Her emotional state deteriorated and she tried to kill herself in September 2012. Prison authorities responded by handcuffing “Mery” to a bed in a psychiatric hospital and placing an armed guard in her room. Amnesty is especially concerned because she has been cut off from both the psychological help she needs as well as legal counsel.

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Three Reasons Why I Can’t Wait For Thursday

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Eve Ensler will keynote the XX Factor on October 4th.

On Thursday October 4th, Amnesty International will be holding our 2nd Annual Women’s Rights Forum in Washington, D.C.

The XX Factor: Town Hall on Women’s Rights, will bring together human rights defenders, issue experts and grassroots activists on women’s human rights work to talk about the frontline women’s rights issues in the United States, and around the world. That, in and of itself, is worthy of excitement. But that isn’t all!

Here are 3 reasons to get excited about this year’s XX Factor.

1. With little more than a month until the U.S. elections, now is the time to set our agenda for the rights of women and girls for the next four years. Our panelists – Kierra Johnson, Executive Director at Choice USA, feminist scholar Linda Hirshman and Fatima Goss Graves, Vice President of the National Women’s Law Center, will tackle issues ranging from women’s economic status to reproductive freedom, as well as the importance of women’s political participation in November, and beyond.

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