By Kaitlyn Denzler, Women’s Rights Campaigner
Over two and a half years ago, Amnesty International launched the My Body, My Rights (MBMR) Campaign, a global effort to end the control and criminalization of sexuality and reproduction, and to help everyone know and claim their sexual and reproductive rights. Three years on, our work on sexual and reproductive rights remains as important as ever. Here’s why we’re still fighting: SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
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
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
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
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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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
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
Sunday, September 28, Amnesty International is taking part in the International Day to Decriminalize Abortion. The importance of access to safe, legal abortion is clearly demonstrated in Amnesty’s new report, On the Brink of Death: Violence Against Women and the Abortion Ban in El Salvador. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
As 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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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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