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Gauge of a 'Political Mood': a Teen Rape Victim's Retrial

Evelyn Hernandez, jailed in El Salvador after a stillbirth, will get a new day in court
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 11, 2019 8:25 AM CDT
In this Dec. 13, 2017, file photo, women demand the government free women prisoners who are serving long prison sentences for having an abortion, outside court in San Salvador, El Salvador.   (AP Photo/Salvador Melendez, File)
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(Newser) – A teen rape victim in El Salvador convicted in 2017 of murder and sentenced to 30 years in jail after a stillbirth will face a new day in court Monday. Reuters reports Evelyn Beatriz Hernandez, now 21, will be retried, and this time advocates are hoping she'll be acquitted. Hernandez had been accused of inducing an abortion—illegal in all cases in El Salvador—by not seeking prenatal care, and then of trying to kill the baby when it was born in a bathroom in April 2016. Hernandez, who was impregnated after being repeatedly raped by a gang member, says she hadn't even known she was pregnant until she went into labor; her lawyers say she'd been too frightened to ever report the rapes to police. Hernandez, whose sentence was annulled by an appeals court in February, is allowed to live at home during the retrial, per the BBC.

Hernandez is one of multiple women jailed under the nation's strict abortion law after having stillbirths, miscarriages, or other pregnancy issues. After the UN said in 2017 El Salvador should stop jailing women for abortion-related crimes and review cases of those who'd already been jailed, pro-choice advocates started a harder push for a bill to ease the rigid law, but so far to no avail. "We hope that on Monday the rule of law and justice wins in this country," one of Hernandez's lawyers from the Citizen Group for the Decriminalization of Abortion (CDFA) tells Reuters. The retrial will take place under a new Salvadoran president, Nayib Bukele, who has said he thinks abortion is permissible if the mother's life is at risk. How Hernandez's case pans out will "send a message about ... the political mood," says a rep for the US-based Women's Equality Center. (Read more El Salvador stories.)

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