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  • Evelyn Beatriz Hernandez after being released from prison.

    Evelyn Beatriz Hernandez after being released from prison. | Photo: EFE

Published 17 February 2019

The Salvadoran woman, sentenced to 30 years in prison for giving birth to a stillborn baby after having been raped, has been freed after 33 months.

Evelyn Beatriz Hernandez, 20, was freed Friday after serving 33 months in prison for giving birth to a stillborn child resulting from rape. She was charged by a Salvadoran court with “aggravated homicide” and sentenced to 30 years in prison.

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After an appeal, the court said that she will be re-tried but will be able to live at home during the process.

Her imprisonment caused a storm among activists in the country, who greeted her release with chants like, "Evelyn, you are not alone."

"We are very happy because Evelyn is free and shares with her family the joy of returning home," said her lawyer Angelica Rivas.

Hernandez said in July 2017 that she did not know she was pregnant when she suffered a third-trimester stillbirth in a bathroom in April 2016.

She was allegedly raped by a gang member repeatedly over several months before going into labor. She was too afraid to report the rapes.

Medical experts were unable to ascertain whether the fetus died in utero or in the moments after delivery, but the female judge accepted the prosecutor’s claims that Hernandez failed to seek prenatal care during pregnancy, which was tantamount to murder under Salvadoran law.

El Salvador’s abortion law was implemented in 1998 after a campaign by a small group of powerful anti-abortion groups linked to the Catholic church.

Under the legislation, abortion is illegal under any circumstances, even in cases of rape, when a fetus has been injured or when the mother’s life is in danger.

According to the Citizens’ Group for the Decriminalization of Abortion, 129 women were convicted of abortion-related crimes between 2000 and 2011 in El Salvador.

Since 2015, 26 women have faced charges of murder.

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