On June 29, a 19-year-old woman accused of “aggravated homicide” received the maximum punishment
This is not the first instance in which a woman in El Salvador has received a jail sentence following a miscarriage. But this is the first instance the maximum penalty of 50 years has been imposed.
According to a statement made on Monday, July 4 by the group that represented Lesly, 21, during the trial, Lesly, 21, was condemned for “aggravated homicide” on June 29 after becoming the victim of an obstetric emergency.
Lesly is a poor woman from a rural village in the east of the country. Her home, where she lives with her six siblings, has no access to clean water or electricity. Lesly did not go beyond elementary school. In June 2020, while at home, she felt the need to go to the bathroom. “She didn’t even know she was pregnant, it was her first pregnancy, and she was actually going into labor,” Abigail Cortez, a lawyer for the Citizen’s Collective, told Le Monde.
“I felt that something was coming out,” explained the young woman, who was 19 years old at the time.
Far from coming to her rescue, her own family called the police, who took her to the hospital, where she had to receive three blood transfusions. From there, she was sent to prison, where she was charged with “aggravated homicide.” According to the prosecutor’s office, the young woman hid her pregnancy from her family and killed the baby – born almost full term – with a knife before “abandoning it in the yard of the house.”
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“The judge refused to accept the evidence that proves her innocence,” said Ms. Cortez, who spoke to us by phone from San Salvador, the country’s capital. “For example, he refused the social report that showed that Lesly has been a victim of gender violence by her family since she was a child. He also refused to allow a psychological evaluation to be carried out. The prosecutor’s office is not trying to find the truth, but to punish women.”