A new Belgian documentary, supported by our Pascal Decroos Fund, highlights the plight of rape victims in El Salvador. Strict abortion laws see women disappear in prison. Even those who suffer miscarriage don't get spared.
"When I woke up in the hospital, there were police officers around me. They said that I had killed my child." Maria Teresa De Rivera is 34 when she suffers a miscarriage in the toilet. Due to strict abortion laws in her country, she is sentenced to 40 years in prison. She not only loses a child but also her freedom. Under pressure from, among others, the Catholic Church, El Salvador has one of the strictest abortion laws in the world.
Belgian journalist Jan De Deken knows the cultural sensitivities in the region. For two years he worked as a freelance Latin American correspondent. Together with his colleague Roel Nollet he explores the impact of the abortion law, and the link with the gang violence in El Salvador. Several women are in prison for years. Evelyn is 19. She was raped by a member of a drug gang but is afraid to talk about it. The perpetrator is still walking around freely.
"Every ten minutes a woman or child in El Salvador is the victim of sexual violence," says Maria. She now has asylum in Sweden. "If you leave the house in the morning, you don't know whether you will return in the evening." The murder figures in El Salvador are breaking all records. While women are being locked up for miscarriage, gangs fight their war on the streets.
Inocencia asesinada - Vranckx (Belgian public broadcaster VRT/Canvas), 20u10, 9/03/2019.