EL SALVADOR: Sara Rogel was given a 30-year prison sentence for terminating her pregnancy.
She was one of the dozens of Salvadoran women imprisoned for abortion-related crimes in the country, which banned abortion in all circumstances in 1998.
It is against the law in El Salvador to have an abortion. The law formerly permitted abortion to be performed under some limited circumstances, but, in 1998, all exceptions were removed when a new abortion law went into effect. You can also be arrested if you give birth to a stillborn or have a miscarriage.
Rogel, 28, was arrested in October 2012 after going to a hospital with bleeding injuries caused by what she said was a fall while carrying out chores at home.
Then a 22-year-old student, Rogel was prosecuted and sentenced to 30 years in prison for killing her unborn daughter. Her sentence was later reduced to 10 years, which would have seen her released in October 2022.
On Monday, she left a women’s jail near Zacatecoluca, about 56km (35 miles) southeast of the capital San Salvador, where she was joined by members of her family and her lawyer Karla Vaquerano of the pro-abortion rights group ACDATEE.
She was released on parole and many believe that she was wrongly charged.
Women’s rights groups have said most of these women come from poor, rural areas and experienced obstetric emergencies, not abortions.
“Sara never deserved to be in prison,” feminist activist Morena Herrera said. “While in mourning for the heartbreaking loss of her pregnancy, Sara should have been with her family. Instead, she was unjustly imprisoned for nine years.”
Rogel’s case had drawn international attention and calls for action.
“If El Salvador is really serious about its international obligations to human rights, this is an opportunity to free Sarita,” said Paula Avila-Guillen, a lawyer consulting for Rogel’s legal team, told Al Jazeera in March.
Avila-Guillen, executive director of Women’s Equality Center, a US-based organisation that supports feminist organising in Latin America, welcomed the news of Rogel’s release on Monday, but said the fight would continue.
“She had to suffer not only with the loss of her pregnancy, but also the loss of her freedom. We won’t stop fighting until ALL the women are free!” she wrote.
- Additional reporting Al Jazeera