Three women from El Salvador who were sentenced to 30 years in prison have now been freed. The women were sentenced under the nation’s strict anti-abortion laws. This comes a few days after Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, in a statement said that he spent part of his two-day trip meeting with women imprisoned for the crime of “aggravated homicide.”
Also, celebrities including actors América Ferrera, Milla Jovovich and Kathryn Hahn asked President Nayib Bukele’s government to let the women return home for Christmas.
Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said, “I am appalled that as a result of El Salvador’s absolute prohibition on abortion, women are being punished for apparent miscarriages and other obstetric emergencies, accused and convicted of having induced termination of pregnancy.”
With this, he called on the authorities to review all cases of women detained for abortion.
Morena Herrera of the Citizen’s group for the depenalisation of abortion said that the group was initially told that one woman would be freed at presidential order. However, when they went to prison, a total of three women were released.
In a report by the Associated Press, Herrera said, “We presented ourselves at the prison in Zacatecoluca and Karen, Kathy and Evelyn left. They are free and in their homes.”
El Salvador has one of the world’s strictest bans on abortion. It does not permit exceptions. Even for rape or if the mother’s life is at risk, there is no right to abortion. Also, the prison sentences can stretch up to 40 years.
In recent years, some rulings have been reversed, with several women released from jail after serving parts of their long sentences.
Still, women are often prosecuted for stillbirths and abortions induced because of medical emergencies.
(With inputs from agencies)