This is the story of the 21 years old girl, Evelyn Hernandez from El Salvador. She was sentenced with 30 years imprison only 33 months ago, and is finally free today. An incredible story that speaks for so many injustice and rigid society’s rules.
I mentioned her detention 33 months ago, but Evelyn’s sad story begins almost four years ago, when she was 17 years old. She was raped in her hometown and after surviving the difficulties of such brutal act, she found herself pregnant. Only 18 years old, she understood she was pregnant only at the time she was in labor. It sounds incredible, but believe me it can be true in some parts of the world, where sex is considered taboo and no one takes time to explain to unmarried young girls anything about sex and pregnancy. She gave birth to a stillborn baby at her home and had lots of hemorrhages. Her mother sent her to the hospital and it was then that the doctors found out that she had given birth and called the police.
Abortion is prohibited in El Salvador, so Evelyn was charged for murder and sentenced with 30 years imprison. She kept declaring she was innocent and did not kill her baby; she didn’t even knew she was pregnant at the first place. The court did not consider doctors’ examination that the conditions of the stillborn baby could happened even in normal birth situations. Evelyn did appeal her detention and it was the supreme court of El Salvador that discharged all accusations and let her free.
Many women’s right activists around the world have considered today’s decision of El Salvador supreme court as a victory for women’s rights in the country. I see it as a case when a victim was finally recognized as such. Instead of being victimized twice from the legal system, she is finally free to bring together all pieces of her life and move on to build a new one.
Rigid rules societies are typical scenes where you find victimized women being judged, instead of their aggressors. Evelyn was raped and probably she did not told to anyone about it. She was either ashamed about the dishonoring she faced, or she knew no one would believe her. Everyone, her family included, would think she had a lover and wanted to fake the rape to cover her own fault. I’m sure the prosecutor and the judges thought the same way, when decided to convicted her for the death of her unfortunate baby. No one listened to her: she was convicted since the very first second of her saga. She was prejudged for being beautiful, young and lively. She is prejudged because she was born female in a very masculine country.
I feel compassion for Evelyn. She is one of those people, whose destiny is to face lots of suffering in life. And she went through a lot of suffering since she was very young. Firstly, she lost her innocence during a brutal rape, then she lost her baby during an unfortunate delivery, then she almost lost her own life due to childbirth complications. Finally, she lost her freedom. But, fortunately she did not loose desire for life and kept asking for justice.
I wonder: How many people really took care of her? How many people believed her? How many people thought she was victimized two times in a short period? How many people helped her? Definitely, prayers of many people were for her. Many activists of women’s rights stayed next to her and legal support was given for her case. I wish she would feel the same support even in the future, when she will need lots of understanding and support to build a new life. Go Evelyn! Our prayers are for you! You are the best example and inspiration for many victimized women around the world.
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