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A Teenage Rape Victim Has Been Sentenced To 30 Years In Prison For Having A Stillbirth

The teenager is among a number of women sentenced for breaking El Salvador's strict abortion laws, despite having a stillbirth.

Posted on July 7, 2017, at 7:31 a.m. ET

A 19-year-old from El Salvador has been sentenced to 30 years in jail for the stillbirth of her rapist's child.

According to The Guardian, Evelyn Beatriz Hernandez Cruz was convicted for failing to seek proper care for her unborn child, and therefore its murder. She was apparently unaware of her pregnancy until she gave birth in her toilet in April 2016.

Cruz had been repeatedly raped by a gang member while in a forced relationship prior to her pregnancy. She did not seek help as she had been too scared to approach police.

She was reported to officials by hospital staff when she went to seek care. The baby's body was later found in the school toilet. The prosecutor in the trial argued that Cruz intentionally hurt the baby.

Cruz's story has prompted an outpouring of support from reproductive rights groups and women on social media.

During Cruz's trial, women stood outside the Isidro Menéndez Judicial Center in San Salvador, holding signs protesting her treatment by authorities.

Evelyn, no estas solo las defensoras seguimos luchando por tu libertad. #JusticiaParaEvelyn #Las7 #ElSalvador

"Evelyn, you are not the only defender, we are still fighting for your freedom."

Others tweeted throughout the trial, raising awareness of her case. Las17 — a group named after the 17 cases between 1999 and 2011 in which women were imprisoned for miscarriages — tweeted daily reports on the trial.

Audiencia de sentencia miércoles 5 de julio 2017 #Las17 #ElSalvador

Evelyn was sentenced 30 yrs for an obstetric emergency today. This is Justice in #ElSalvador When will it end?… https://t.co/KE9aUtQIl1

Evelyn, una mujer joven y pobre, fue condenada hoy a 30 años de cárcel, tuvo una complicación obstétrica y su hijo murió por esa causa.

"Evelyn, a poor young woman, sentenced today to 30 years in prison, had an obstetric complication and her son died because of it."

The hashtag #JusticiaParaEvelyn — Justice for Evelyn — was used to organize protests and gatherings to support her.

Evelyn no estás sola : #JusticiaparaEvelyn @Unaflorporlas17

"Evelyn, you are not alone."

Cruz's case is not uncommon. Abortion is banned in El Salvador under any circumstances. While miscarriage and stillbirth are not formally criminalized, many women who suffer them are charged with the "aggravated homicide" of the fetus.

An Amnesty International report in 2015 said at least 19 women were in jail in El Salvador for abortion-related crimes. Some women convicted have later been freed.
Marvin Recinos / AFP / Getty Images

An Amnesty International report in 2015 said at least 19 women were in jail in El Salvador for abortion-related crimes. Some women convicted have later been freed.

Las17 said on Thursday that Cruz's attorneys would appeal the court's ruling.

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