October 30, 2015
Published originally in RH Reality Check: http://rhrc.us/1SdhF0R
In 2004, as an 18-year-old mother of a small child, Christina Quintanilla experienced a spontaneous abortion in the bathroom at her home, lost the fetus she was carrying, and lay unconscious and bleeding heavily.
Her mother took her to the hospital to get medical care, where doctors performed a dilation and curettage procedure, a frequent practice for miscarriages.
“While I was coming out of the anesthesia, I remember seeing a man dressed in blue,” Quintanilla told the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) earlier this month in Washington, D.C., along with recounting the rest of her story. “That seemed odd since doctors in El Salvador wear white. The man asked me my name and then told me, ‘Christina Quintanilla, you are under arrest for aggravated homicide!’ I was shocked.”
Originally published in RH Reality Check:
The presence of the Zika virus in El Salvador, along with the evidence that it may be causing microcephaly in fetuses and babies, led the country’s Ministry of Health to recommend last week that women should avoid becoming pregnant until 2018. But local feminist groups say this guidance doesn’t reflect the needs of Salvadoran women, especially where reproductive health is concerned.
Zika Increases the Already Grave Dangers of Being Young and Female in El Salvador
The arrival of the Zika virus is not the only threat to young women’s health and human rights in El Salvador. The virus, its potential link to microcephaly and other complications, and the inadequate government responses to it so far all bring into sharper focus the grave situation girls and women already face in the country. Such danger, highlighted in both government reports and the work of activists on the ground, includes sexual violence, a lack of access to medical care, and gang activity.
El Salvador’s health ministry recently recommended that because of the virus, women contemplating pregnancies should take measures to postpone their pregnancies for at least two years. However, as RH Reality Check reported, feminists responded that the recommendation is inadequate. It does not address the realities in El Salvador, they said, a country where 31 percent of all pregnancies registered with the El Salvador Ministry of Health in 2014