Guadalupe shared the story of her first pregnancy with us. She was an eighteen-year-old domestic worker at a private home in El Salvador, a common job for young women who can’t find work elsewhere. She lived at the house sometimes, often sleeping on the floor. Her pregnancy was a product of violence, and her place of employment wasn’t any better. She remembers erratic pain becoming more steady and excruciating around midnight, about a month before she was due to give birth. The woman Guadalupe worked for refused to driver her to the hospital or call an ambulance.
This resulted in an emergency delivery at home, and a baby who didn’t survive. Guadalupe was finally taken to the hospital, where she was handcuffed to a bed for four days. She was then transferred to a jail and sentenced to 30 years for aggravated homicide. That’s the sentence women in El Salvador receive for anything the courts deem abortion, even miscarriages.
Her case quickly become one of “Las 17,” now a growing number of women in El Salvador who are charged with homicide even if they have miscarriages or stillbirths. With the help of lawyers and activists, Guadalupe was released after 7 years. She regularly speaks up about the injustice she faced, including on a recent trip to the UN.
Here she enjoys a sweet moment with her daughter after our interview. She’s 28 now, two years out of jail. I wanted to capture her happy, because despite whatever she has endured and continues to face, she showed us that afternoon that she felt—in this moment—content.
– Victoria Bouloubasis