A woman in El Salvador sentenced to 30 years in prison on charges of terminating her pregnancy and violating the country’s strict abortion laws has been released behind bars after nearly nine years.
Sarah Rogel, 28, left the women’s prison near the southern town of Zacatecoluca on Monday, where she became emotional as she hugged her family.
She was arrested in October 2012 at the age of 20 on an abortion charge after being taken to hospital with bleeding.
Rogel, who was eight months pregnant at the time, said she slipped and fell while washing clothes.
Her family found her unconscious and took her to hospital, where authorities detained her on suspicion of abortion.
Sarah Rogel, 28, left the women’s prison near the southern city of Zacatecoluca on Monday, where she became emotional as she hugged her family
Sara Rogel (left) who was sentenced to 30 years in prison for suspected abortion, is hugged by her mother (right) as she is released from prison on Monday
A court then found her guilty of violent manslaughter and sentenced her to 30 years in prison, but her lawyers later helped her reduce the sentence to 10 years – which would have released her in October 2022.
El Salvador has one of the world’s strictest abortion bans. It allows no exceptions, even for rape or if the mother’s life is in danger, and prison sentences can be up to 40 years.
Rogel hugged her relatives as she left prison on Monday. Released on parole, she is not allowed to leave the country and has to undergo therapy with a psychologist.
“She was deprived of her liberty for almost nine years, in a sentence we believe was wrongly given,” said Rogel’s lawyer Karla Vaquerano of the abortion rights organization ACDATEE.
Rogel left prison, where she spent nine years, on Monday before being hugged by her mother
Human rights groups say Rogel had a miscarriage and should never have been jailed.
“Sara never deserved to be in prison,” feminist activist Morena Herrera said. “While Sara mourned the heartbreaking loss of her pregnancy, Sara should have been with her family. Instead, she was wrongfully imprisoned for nine years.”
Her release from a Zacatecoluca prison was initially ordered a week ago by a judge in Cojutepeque on the grounds that she “posed no danger to society”, but Rogel was forced to remain in detention until a deadline passed for the office. of the Attorney General to appeal her release.
“We’ve been waiting for 10 years, 10 years without her,” her father told ngel Rogel The country outside the courthouse in Cojutepeque last week.
Women hold signs that read “Freedom for Sara” and “Sara you’re not alone” during a protest when Sara Rogel attended a hearing in Cojutepeque, El Salvador, on May 31, where a judge ordered her release
Socially conservative and devout Catholic El Salvador prohibits abortion in all cases – including rape and when a mother’s life is in danger, and sentences can range from eight to 50 years in cases of “grievous manslaughter.”
Several women have been persecuted after miscarriages, stillbirths and abortions caused by medical emergencies.
In recent years, some verdicts have been reversed, with several women being released from prison after serving some of their long sentences.
In 2020, Cindy Erazo was released from prison after six years in prison following a stillbirth.
Erazo was initially sentenced to 30 years in prison after an obstetric emergency led to a stillbirth during her eighth month of pregnancy.
Evelyn Beatriz Hernández, 21, acquitted after a retrial found her not guilty of illegally aborting her baby in El Salvador, where there is a total ban on termination
In 2019, 21-year-old rape victim Evelyn Beatriz Hernández was released after serving nearly three years of her 30-year prison term after being charged with an abortion.
Her fetus was 32 weeks in 2016 when she felt severe abdominal pain and delivered it to an outdoor toilet.
It was later found lifeless in a septic tank, with her mother claiming she discovered her daughter passed out next to the latrine.
Both women claimed that Hernandez did not know she was pregnant and that there was a fetus in the tank, but prosecutors did not believe them and filed charges.