Ni Una Menos/ Not one less – Marching against gendered violence in Peru

Festival of Choice 2016

By Illa // London Latinxs, Wretched of the Earth

On the 13th of August more than 500,000 women and supporters took to the streets in Peru, unified under the chant “#NiUnaMenos (Not One Less). Weeks before the march, Cindy Contreras was sexually assaulted, beaten and dragged by her hair by her partner Adriano Pozo in a hotel in Ayacucho. Despite being presented with footage of the assault recorded by the hotel’s CCTV camera, the judges dismissed the claim that this was a clear femicide attempt. On the 15th of August Ronny Garcia, a well-known singer who avoided a kidnapping conviction after abusing his ex-partner Lady Guillen, publically stated on national TV how he was only a “victim of love”.

Like a spark lighting a fire, this triggered thousands of people to share experiences and testimonies of misogyny on social media, initiating a wider feminist movement that has continued to grow. In Peru, 10 women have been murdered every month since 2009 and 79% of these murders are committed by their partners or ex-partners. This year, according to the Registry of Family and Sexual Violence (SAU), 7 in 10 women have reported having suffered some type of sexist violence. A total of 2069, have reported suffering gender violence in the past 8 months.

The 13th of August was not only a day to challenge patriarchal norms in society through personal accounts, but to denounce the State as the root of patriarchal violence and juridical injustice.

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Salvadoran women imprisoned for pregnancy complications

Festival of Choice 2014

LAs17Hundreds of women are incarcerated across the world for having suffered miscarriages, stillbirths, and other obstetrical complications without medical attention. Many of them live in El Salvador, where they usually live in poverty and marginalisation. Some have been sentenced to decades behind bars.

Central America is notorious for anti-abortion punishment, with El Salvador being one of the countries most actively reinforcing the criminalisation of abortion. Central America Women’s Network’s (CAWN) partner in El Salvador, the Asociación Ciudadana (Group for the Decriminalization of Therapeutic Abortion) has launched the “We are all the 17” campaign.

This campaign is building global backing to demand pardons for 17 women, all from deprived backgrounds, who have been imprisoned for the “crime” of pregnancy complications.

The “We are all the 17” campaign appeals for solidarity from people who share the women’s bid to regain their freedom, return to their families and rebuild their lives.

Between 2000 and 2011, 129 women were prosecuted for abortion or aggravated homicide (related to the pregnancy product). This figure however represents a small percentage of the total of women who undergo an unsafe abortion in El Salvador, estimated to be 35,088.60 per year.

The majority are poor and young, with 84,5% of women accused under the draconian anti-abortion law under 30 years old. Only a fourth of the prosecuted women attended high school or university, and nearly 80% have no income or are on below minimum wage income.

Most of the women experienced obstetric problems during their pregnancies and gave birth without any medical assistance. The women were bleeding when they managed to reach a hospital. But when they asked for help, rather than gain support, the women were reported and prosecuted for aggravated murder.

A paper, ‘From Hospital to Jail’, to be launched by CAWN and the Reproductive Health Matters Journal explains that another effect of this restrictive legislation is the suicide rate of pregnant women which, according to the Maternal Death Surveillance System of the Ministry of Health from El Salvador, represented the third cause of maternal deaths in 2011. The paper establishes that the lack of alternatives in the case of an unwanted pregnancy is leading many women to commit suicide.

Under current Salvadoran law, anyone who performs an abortion with the woman’s consent, or a woman who self-induces or consents to someone else inducing her abortion, can be imprisoned.

Healthcare professionals are obliged to maintain patient confidentiality, but also to report any crimes to the police, including that of abortion.

Why I joined Speaking of I.M.E.L.D.A.

Festival of Choice 2014

A member of Speaking of I.M.E.L.D.A  explains in her own words what motivated her to join the direct-action prochoice performance collective:

What spurred me to join Speaking of I.M.E.L.D.A came from the shock of hearing a close friend’s story. Like me, my friend was born in the UK to an Irish family. We are both in our 20s, living life and enjoying ourselves. However now lives in Ireland whereas I have spent my life here.  

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After falling pregnant by accident whilst using contraception, my friend wanted to travel to the UK to have an abortion. However, she could not get the time off of work. This led her to buying tablets from the internet to terminate the pregnancy herself. Thankfully she did not fall ill but she did keep this ordeal a secret from her family and friends, telling us only months later. I can only imagine how scared she must have been during this process. The risk she took was high, living in a rural community miles away from a hospital. It could have ended badly.

Hearing her story made me realise that she had been forced to make a decision alone that I would never have to make. Why should my reproductive rights be any different to a woman in another country? Every woman should be able to make such a life changing decision for herself.

Jean Lamberts Statement Abortion Law El Salvador

Festival of Choice 2014

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Jean has issued a statement calling for the abolition of a law prohibiting all cases of abortion – and even criminalising miscarriage victims  – in El Salvador.

On the criminalisation of abortion in El Salvador

I support the campaign by the Central America Women’s Network and its Salvadoran partner, the Citizen Group for the Decriminalization of Abortion, to end the ban on abortions on any grounds in El Salvador.

State prosecutors have used a constitutional amendment which declares that life begins at conception and have charged women who have miscarried or had complications in their pregnancies, or illegal abortions with aggravated homicide. When they arrived at public healthcare facilities, often haemorrhaging and unconscious, they were accused of provoking an abortion and were turned over to the police. Many of the women were arrested and taken directly from the hospital to the jail. Some of these women have received prison sentences of up to 40 years.

I also support the demand made on 1 April 2014 to the government of El Salvador by the Salvadoran Citizen Group for the Decriminalization of Abortion – ACDATEE – to grant pardons for 17 Salvadoran women imprisoned for pregnancy complications, which is supported by many thousands of people in El Salvador and internationally.

These 17 women deserve prompt, compassionate, and humanitarian attention. Within the framework of Salvadoran legislation including the Special Law for Appeals of Grace, the Constitution of the Republic of El Salvador, the Convention of Belem do Para, and other national and international human rights legislation, the Salvadoran Legislative Assembly and the President of the Republic have the power grant these 17 women freedom through pardons so that they may return to their families and continue with their lives.