It reads like something out Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale: Women being imprisoned because they suffered a miscarriage. But in cases that are stranger than fiction, this is actually happening. Right now. In 2015. Since the year 2000, at least 129 women in El Salvador have been put in prison for aggravated homicide due to miscarriage or stillbirth. In El Salvador, this is tantamount to abortion, which is against the law. Not only have these women had to suffer the loss of a child (at grave peril to their own health, in many cases) but separation from their families and other children, all in the name of something completely unlike justice in any guise. Of course, whether or not they even wanted to have a child is a luxury so beyond their choosing as to be ludicrous.
Fortunately, these women have allies. My hat goes off to The Citizen’s Group and Amnesty International (among others), who are working to correct these injustices. They are my new heroes.
But for every new hero, it seems an old one develops feet of clay. Take the case of musician Chrissie Hynde, a woman I used to think of as nothing short of fierce; a strong woman who stood for strong women. Her new autobiography describes how she was assaulted in the 1970s by a biker gang, a trauma that she blames entirely on herself. She is, of course, allowed to feel any way she wants about her own rape, but to then go on to victim-blame (as she does in no uncertain terms) goes against everything I ever thought she was.
It’s been said and said and said: Until there is social justice for all women, everywhere, there is no justice at all. Fortunately, God blesses us with true heroes. And if we cannot find one, we can be one. I have no problem sticking an “F” on my chest (for “feminist”) and striking a championing pose. But what will prove my mettle is how I treat women — and men — on a daily basis. When the going gets tough, may I be made of the sternest stuff on God’s green earth.