EL SALVADOR / SWEDEN – What it’s like to be the world’s first abortion refugee

In 2012, María Teresa Rivera (one of Las 17) was sentenced to 40 years in prison for aggravated homicide after she had had a miscarriage without realising she was pregnant. On 20 May 2016, on appeal, the Third Court recognised that there was not enough evidence to prove the commission of any crime and that her conviction had been a judicial error. The previous judgment was annulled and she was immediately granted her freedom. She reports in this interview that her freedom felt like anything but freedom. She was unable to find work. News reports about her said nothing favourable towards her. She was invited to speak in Sweden in 2016 after her release. Then it was announced that officials were planning to appeal against the decision to free her. She decided to apply for refugee status, which was granted in March 2017. Her son, who was 7 when she was sentenced, would not have seen her again until he was 47 years old. Now she is in Sweden with him. She says her commitment to the women who are still in prison is what keeps her going.

SOURCE: Elle UK, by Katie O’Malley, 1 August 2017 ; PHOTO:, by Vladimir Chicas