Woman in El Salvador went from hospital to jail after an obstetric complication

The word “freedom” will have an even greater meaning for Flor Arely González after 11 May, the day on which a judge of the Trial Court of Sonsonate acquitted her of the offence of aggravated homicide, an offence she was charged with after she had had an obstetric emergency in mid-2015.Morena Herrera, member of the Colectivo Feminista, who represented her in the hearing, rejected the charge of aggravated homicide. In response, at the last minute, the Office of the Attorney General tried to change the charge to “criminal abortion”. However, this was also dismissed by the judge.Flor is the mother of five children aged 20, 17, 15, 8 and 7 years old. According to the history of what happened to her, as reported by the Feminist Collective, after being ill for three days Flor decided to go to bathe in the river near her home, thinking it would make her feel better. However, far from improving how she felt, she suffered a premature delivery and fell to the ground unconscious.The doctors who treated her claimed she had had an abortion and denounced her to the police, who took her straight from the hospital to the jail. She was detained in a holding cell of the Policía Nacional Civil de Sonsonate for nine months. Then, for a further month, she was released on parole, the first woman accused of homicide who received different treatment.That Flor has been acquitted represents, for Morena Herrera, a feminist and human rights defender, an act of justice. She said: “No one in Flor’s situation should be detained. It is encouraging that a court has recognised that the criminalisation of obstetric emergencies should not happen,” she said.Flor is the 11th woman be released after having been accused of aggravated homicide, due to the efforts of the Feminist Collective. All the cases have had a common denominator: all were accused by personnel in public hospitals when they came to seek medical care for emergency obstetric complications.In El Salvador, since 1998, all abortions are illegal. A report of the Agrupación Ciudadana por la Despenalización del Aborto presented evidence that between 2000 and 2011, following emergency obstetric care, 129 women were charged and 49 were imprisoned. These women were typically young, poor and with very little education.The Agrupación continues its campaign for the release of the remaining Las 17 and for freedom for 27 other women who have had similar experiences as Flor.SOURCE/PHOTOS: Agrupación Ciudadania per la Depenalización del Aborto,ContraPunto El Salvador,10-12 May 2016ContraPunto El Salvador, 20 May 2016