Imelda Cortez, charged in El Salvador for attempted abortion

Agrupación Ciudadana/ Remix by Samantha Grasso

Internet has #EyesOnElSalvador after woman faces 20 years for birthing her rapist’s baby

Officials say she tried to have an abortion.


Samantha Grasso


Posted on Nov 12, 2018   Updated on May 21, 2021, 1:52 am CDT

Advocates across the internet are calling for justice for a 20-year-old Salvadoran woman who is facing 20 years in jail for attempting an abortion. According to the Guardian, the woman, Imelda Cortez, had no idea she was pregnant but had become so after her 70-year-old stepfather sexually abused her; he had reportedly been doing so since she was 12.

The publication reports that Cortez has been in custody since April 2017 after giving birth to the baby in a restroom, and that her criminal trial begins today. At the time of her arrest, she had been rushed to the hospital after her mother found her in pain and bleeding, and the doctor there suspected she had attempted an abortion. Despite officers finding the baby healthy and alive, Cortez was charged with attempted murder and sent to jail after a week in the hospital.

Cortez’s abuse wasn’t reported until another patient had overheard Cortez’s stepfather, who had visited her, threaten to kill her family if she reported him. After prosecutors said Cortez was lying, a DNA test confirmed the baby was her stepfather’s. The stepfather has yet to be charged for rape and abuse. In El Salvador, all circumstances of abortion are illegal, with many of the women charged having suffered a miscarriage or stillbirth, or not having known they were pregnant.

Across Twitter, people are sharing Cortez’s story with the hashtags #EyesOnElSalvador and #SalvemosAImelda, showing solidarity with the young sexual abuse survivor and generating attention for her criminal trial. The Guardian reports that a ruling by three judges is expected within the next week.

People are also using the hashtag #EyesOnElSalvador to bring attention to the country’s unfair persecution of women prior to Cortez’s trial.

For Cortez specifically, an organization called Agrupación Ciudadana has started a petition for her release. Nearly 50,000 people have signed it so far.

Share this article
*First Published: Nov 12, 2018, 11:49 am CST