"We believe that abortion after rape is a minimum right for women, a minimum right to guarantee our lives," said an activist attending the demonstration.
Dozens of women protested Tuesday outside the Ecuadorian National Assembly in the capital of Quito, demanding the decriminalization of abortion in cases of rape. Lawmakers are currently debating penal reforms, including one that would expand abortion access.
Holding signs that read "Surviving an abortion is a class privilege," the protesters demanded that assembly members decriminalize abortion in all cases of rape.
We must "be attentive to the vote of those who are representing us in an assembly that cannot continue to be inactive and complicit of the pains, deaths, and sufferings we are experiencing as women," said Alejandra Apolo, a 26-year-old lawyer who participated in the demonstration.
The protesters, mostly women wearing the green handkerchiefs as a symbol of the cause, lit candles at the feet of police officers guarding the National Assembly, while others sang slogans such as "if the pope were a woman, abortion would be law.”
"We believe that abortion after rape is a minimum right for women to have, a minimum right to guarantee our lives and healths," said Micaela Camacho, a 21-year-old feminist activist.
In the socially-conservative country, abortion is only allowed when the woman’s health is at risk or if the pregnancy is the result of rape of someone with a mental disability. Ecuadorean law punishes women who have abortions with a prison term of six months to two years.
Camacho trusted that the lawmakers will choose "scientific principles based on social facts because child pregnancy is a fact and abortion after rape is the minimum reparation measure for these girls that the state cannot force to give birth.”
Ecuadorean organizations maintain that each year, approximately 2,500 girls under 14 give birth in the country are the result of sexual violence. Under national law, sexual relationships with children under 14 is considered rape.
Lawmakers Tuesday, participated in the second and final debate on the proposed reforms to the country's penal code. There were 15 speeches before the session was suspended, with reform debates scheduled to resume Tuesday, August 13.