This Salvadoran Woman is the First Person to be Granted Asylum Due to a Country’s Abortion Laws

This Salvadoran Woman is the First Person to be Granted Asylum Due to a Country’s Abortion Laws

Last month, Maria Teresa Rivera, a Salvadoran woman who was imprisoned for allegedly provoking an abortion, was granted asylum in Sweden, becoming the first person to receive protection because of regressive abortion laws.

MORE: Why This Former Salvadoran Guerrilla is Now Fighting for Reproductive Rights

According to Rewire, the Swedish Migration Agency made Rivera aware of their decision on March 20. She and her son have been granted a three-year asylum period with the potential of renewal.

Rivera is one of several women in El Salvador, where abortions have been illegal in all circumstances since 1997, who have been jailed for either undergoing the procedure or for having miscarriages that were assumed to be abortions.

Rivera’s story gained international attention after the woman, who in 2011 experienced an unattended birth to a dead fetus in the latrine at her home, was convicted of aggravated homicide in 2012, despite evidence showing that the death was caused by natural occurrences.

While behind bars, she, and other women who were accused of terminating their pregnancies, were mistreated by guards and women prisoners alike.

“I understand that many women didn’t want to tell others why they were there because they were treated so badly. They called us ‘baby eaters’ and more, and sometimes hit us or threatened us,” she told Rewire in 2016. “But I knew I hadn’t done anything wrong, and I spoke up. Other women came to me secretly to tell me why they were there and asked me to put them in contact with my lawyer so they could get help.”

On May 20, 2016, Rivera was freed from prison after a higher court, ruling that the trial that jailed her was filled with errors and lack of evidence of any crime, ordered a new trial.

PLUS: El Salvador: Women Can Be Jailed for Miscarrying

In Sweden, Rivera plans to continue fighting against her country's dangerous abortion ban and its unjust practice of incarcerating women whose pregnancies are terminated, whether naturally or self-induced.