San Jose & San Salvador - October 30, 2018. Given the imminent risk of suffering irreparable damage to their health and personal integrity, The Feminist Collective for Local Development of El Salvador; the Citizen Group for the Decriminalization of Therapeutic, Ethical and Eugenic Abortion of El Salvador; and the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), requested protection measures before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in favor of Imelda Cortez.
Imelda Cortez is a 20-year-old Salvadoran girl who is being charged with the crime of attempted aggravated homicide, after undergoing an out-of-hospital delivery in Jiquilisco, department of Usulután. The organizations requesting the precautionary measures maintain that the State of El Salvador has not protected or guaranteed their rights and, on the contrary, has criminalized it and thereby put their rights at serious risk.
"This young woman, who has survived years of sexual violence, who has been a victim of poverty and social exclusion, is today considered a victimizer for facing an obstetric emergency. This proves the discriminatory bias that persists in El Salvador and that particularly affects women in vulnerable situations," said Marcia Aguiluz, director of CEJIL for Central America and Mexico.
Next November 12th, Imelda will be judged. However, to date she has not been given psychological support and is being held in preventive custody without the consideration of her condition as a victim.
As indicated by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR), in cases of crimes of sexual violence such as Imelda's, it is necessary that "medical, health and psychological attention be provided to the victim, both in an emergency and on an ongoing basis, if so required." In addition, "the criminal investigation must include a gender perspective and be carried out by officials trained in similar cases and in attention to victims of discrimination and gender-based violence."
"El Salvador has had a systematic policy of persecuting women. There are numerous similar cases in which the authorities do not provide adequate medical attention and rather treat them as criminals. Today we see, once again, how a biased, patriarchal and unjust system of justice works," said Morena Herrera, of the Citizens' Association, adding: "It is very serious and sad to see that nothing changes in one of the most restrictive countries in the world in matters of sexual and reproductive rights, while women die and fill prisons for no reason".
The organizations that have accompanied Imelda during this process asked the IACHR to adopt precautionary measures to prevent any further deterioration of Imelda's health and personal integrity.
"We call for El Salvador to rectify its actions, stop this absurd criminalization and provide the necessary care for the young," expressed the representatives of the organizations accompanying the process.
As part of the support actions, they also launched a campaign of citizen signatures, under #SalvemosaImelda, or #LetsSaveImelda and #JusticiaParaImelda, or #JusticeForImelda, which will be shared online. The petition is in this link.