In most Central American and some Latin American countries there are high levels of sexual abuse and rape, particularly against young women. Rape and abuse are directly connected to high rates of unwanted and forced pregnancy. In addition, taking these horrendous circumstances into account, in many countries there is no access to safe and legal abortion. Instead abortion is socially stigmatised and criminalised under all circumstances – even in the case of rape or health risks for the pregnant women. For instance, in El Salvador, a teenager was raped a year ago and got pregnant. Last summer, she was sentenced to 30 years in jail because of a miscarriage. Months before, another woman, Mirna Ramírez, explained that she was put in jail because she had had a premature birth and was accused of an abortion, which is seen as a crime.
There has been an outpour of international solidarity with the Central American region to support the hundreds of litigation cases working to free women imprisoned for abortion or miscarriage. Support has also come from development organisations in the form of advocacy and public education campaigning, women’s empowerment projects and feminist soap operas (i.e. “La corriente” in Nicaragua).
In the last years however, solidarity work hasn’t been easy. According to the World Bank funding for ‘development’ in developing countries has drastically shrank, as some of these countries have recently been categorised as “middle-income” countries. Donor countries in Europe have mostly shifted their attention towards their own economic and migration crises and the rise of the populist right-wing.