SAN SALVADOR – Women in El Salvador are exposed to judicial proceedings that lack gender perspective, especially those accused of homicide or attempted murder when allegedly having an abortion, attorney Alejandra Burgos said in an interview with EFE.
The lawyer is part of the defense team that represents Imelda Cortez, a 20-year-old woman charged with “attempted murder” after allegedly trying to end her unwanted pregnancy resulting from repeated sexual assaults by her stepfather, who abused her over the past seven years.
“Imelda and other women prosecuted for homicide – when in fact they had an obstetric problem – are poor women, from rural areas and whose rights to education and healthcare have been hampered,” Burgos said. “And their fundamental rights as humans beings have been violated, too.”
The lawyer said that cases like Imelda’s “have to be addressed from a gender perspective to prevent judges and other authorities from criminalizing them just because they are women, and so that their fundamental rights are not violated.”
This “would make it possible to identify the context of the victims and the situation of inequality in which they find themselves due to gender, and to assess the adoption of special protection measures,” as well as “to act on the facts and according to the legal regulations, applying a critical view of reality,” neutral and without sexist stereotypes, she explained.
The lawyer hopes that on Nov. 12, the day Imelda will face trial for attempted murder, her client will be released and can “carry on with her life.”
“This young woman, who has survived years of sexual violence and who has been a victim of poverty and social exclusion, is today considered a victimizer because she faced an obstetric emergency,” said Marcia Aguiluz, director of the Center for Justice and International Law (Cejil) for Central America and Mexico.
El Salvador is one of the few countries in the world where abortion is prohibited in all circumstances and where women who experience pregnancy complications – which can lead to spontaneous abortions or obstetric emergencies – are often accused of first-degree murder by the Attorney General’s Office.