Who is Cindy Erazo and what does her release mean for 18 other women sentenced in El Salvador by the strict anti-abortion law

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Who is Cindy Erazo and what does her release mean for 18 other women sentenced in El Salvador by the strict anti-abortion law




Salvadoran Cindy Erazo spent six years in jail.


© Center for Reproductive Rights
Salvadoran Cindy Erazo spent six years in jail.


Cindy Erazo was released on probation on Tuesday after spending six years in a prison in El Salvador on charges of aggravated murder for giving birth to a stillborn baby.

The delivery occurred in August 2014, after Erazo suffered an obstetric emergency in a shopping center in San Salvador, the country’s capital. The young woman was arrested in the same place.

The pregnancy was eight months and one week gestation.

Erazo, now 29, was sentenced to 30 years in prison in 2015. But his sentence was appealed in 2016 and reduced to 10 years.

In 2019, he received the benefit of being released from prison one day a week to visit his family and his 10-year-old son.

But the restrictions imposed to combat the covid-19 pandemic suspended departures, told BBC Mundo Morena Herrera, a lawyer for the Citizen Group for the Decriminalization of Abortion, an organization that represents Erazo.

Given the interruption, this organization requested Erazo’s early parole and this Monday, the 1st Court of Penitentiary Surveillance and Execution of the Penalty of San Salvador approved the request.

The court resolution sent to BBC Mundo by Erazo’s representatives maintains that the young woman met several of the conditions to receive the benefit, such as having served more than half of the 10-year prison sentence.

Herrera told BBC Mundo that they will continue to seek the young woman’s total freedom.

“There is no evidence to show that Cindy has ever tried to terminate the pregnancy or harm the fetus,” said a statement Wednesday from the Center for Reproductive Rights, a Latin American women’s advocacy organization that provides international support to the Citizen Group.

Strict law

El Salvador has one of the strictest anti-abortion laws in the world. Abortion is illegal in all circumstances and the culprits face between two and eight years in prison.


Initially, Erazo had been sentenced to 30 years in prison, but later his sentence was reduced to 10 years.


© Center for Reproductive Rights
Initially, Erazo had been sentenced to 30 years in prison, but later his sentence was reduced to 10 years.


Women who experience pregnancy complications leading to miscarriages and stillbirths are commonly suspected of having had an abortion.

In many cases, including Erazo’s, the abortion charge changes to one of aggravated homicide, which carries a minimum sentence of 30 years.

In the past, women in El Salvador could abort in cases of rape, or if the health of the baby or the mother was at risk.

But current law, enacted under a conservative government in 1998, banned abortion entirely.

El Salvador is not the only country in Latin America that has such strict laws, but it is particularly rigorous in its application.

United Nations Charter

Erazo’s departure occurs a few months after several United Nations agencies sent a letter to the State of El Salvador to request that they release women “arbitrarily and unjustly detained for emergencies related to reproductive health” and “particularly in the context of of the current pandemic “.

The letter also asks the Salvadoran State to “indicate the measures adopted by the government to properly care for and protect women victims of obstetric emergencies, such as spontaneous abortions.”


Countries like the Dominican Republic and Argentina are studying projects to decriminalize abortion.


© EPA
Countries like the Dominican Republic and Argentina are studying projects to decriminalize abortion.


Cindy Erazo “is the first we managed to get out in this context of a pandemic,” Herrera told BBC Mundo.

Remain 18 women imprisoned in El Salvador as a consequence of its anti-abortion laws.

“Several of them already have the possibility of going free if the prison benefits measures are complied with,” Herrera added.

“Cindy’s resolution opens up possibilities for the review of other women’s benefit measures to be expedited.”

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