“There’s a saying in El Salvador,” said Vicki Knox, Co-Director of the Central American Women’s Network (CAWN). “The rich abort, the poor bleed.”
And with that, everyone in the room understood the deep disadvantages that women and girls from poor backgrounds in El Salvador must face when it comes to making decisions about having sex or having children.
Abortion is banned in all cases in El Salvador. It doesn’t matter if you’re pregnant as a result of being raped, if your life is at risk, or if the foetus is not going to survive: abortion is always a crime in El Salvador.
This injustice – this scandal – is what brought us to Amnesty’s international headquarters in London last night. Whether Amnesty staff, like me, or activists from CAWN or My Belly is Mine, we were there to show our solidarity with the thousands of women and girls in El Salvador who are denied the right to control their own lives and fates by a law that has no place in the modern world.
As Vicki and Amnesty’s Guadalupe Marengo spoke about the harrowing cases of “Las 17” – 17 women who have been jailed for having abortions or miscarriages and other pregnancy-related “offences” – the insidious impact of the ban grew ever clearer.
Many of their cases are included in Amnesty’s reportOn the brink of death: Violence against women and the abortion ban in El Salvador.
Read the rest of Amnesty’s blog post here