Teen Rape Victim Sentenced to 30 Years in Jail for Stillbirth

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A 19-year-old rape victim in El Salvador was convicted of murder for having a miscarriage. Evelyn Beatriz Hernandez Cruz has been sentenced to 30 years in prison. According to Cosmopolitan, El Salvador is one of only five countries in the world where abortion is completely and totally illegal.  It’s even illegal in cases of rape or incest or where carrying a pregnancy to term could kill the mother.

Evelyn Beatriz Hernandez Cruz convicted of “aggravated homicide”

Evelyn Beatriz Hernandez Cruz was convicted of failing to seek prenatal care when she became pregnant, and thus the judge ruled that she was guilty of murder because her baby was stillborn.

Hernandez was 18 years old at the time of the delivery. She was reportedly raped repeatedly over several months by a gang member who was forcing her to be in a sexual relationship with him. Hernandez said she did not know she was pregnant until she started experiencing severe back and abdominal pains and delivered a stillborn baby into a bathroom toilet.

Prosecutors, however, insisted that the teenager knew she was pregnant.  They said she did not seek out prenatal care because she didn’t want the baby. That’s how they justified a charge of “aggravated homicide” for the stillbirth.

Prosecutors also argued that the baby may have died after birth instead of in utero, but according to Al Jazeera there were no medical experts who could ascertain if that was true or who could testify about that one way or the other.

In spite of all that, the female judge sided with prosecutors and sentenced Hernandez to 30 years in prison. She even said Hernandez’s mother could be made to face charges too.

This is not an isolated incident.

This is not the first time this has happened, either. In 2011 another woman was sentenced to 40 years for having a stillbirth. She also said she had not known she was pregnant. That woman was finally released, but she spent four and a half years in prison in El Salvador for the “crime.”

Hernandez’s lawyers say the judgment was unlawful and they plan to appeal.

(Image: iStockPhoto / Luke_Franzen)