by Janet Kimani
In San Juan Del Riò, México, Dafne McPherson, 29, was released on Jan. 25, 2019; this was after serving only three years out of her sixteen-year sentence. That is great, right? Wrong.
Dafne McPherson, was sentenced for going through something that women all over the world experience, unfortunately, every single day. A devastating process of pain; of both physical and emotional loss. Dafne McPherson was prosecuted, shamed and punished for having a miscarriage.
The unfortunate incident occurred at the department store at which she worked, where after suddenly experiencing immense pain, she went into labor and shortly after had a miscarriage in the bathroom stall. However, not everyone saw this in the same light. According to the prosecutors, she had murdered her newborn child; an act “not even a dog would do.” The miscarriage was reported under self-induced childbirth and murder (BBC 2019). Later, the evidence that McPherson had demonstrated proved that she, in fact, had no control over the situation she suffered- duh! She was released with no compensation for the trauma, pain, and injustice she had suffered. Above all, the three years stolen from her seven-year-old daughter, Lia, whose mother was suddenly ripped from her life, will never be recovered.
Unfortunately, this is not the only story of its kind. Latin America has seen an uprise of women persecuted for having miscarriages in the name of self-induced delivery with an aim of abortion. In 2014, in Argentina, a woman under the pseudonym Belen was also accused of murder after suffering from a miscarriage. In 2016, after spending two years in prison, she was sentenced to eight years for aggravated murder, i.e. murder of a relative (Independent 2016).
The upsurge of these incidences are the abhorred love-child of a patriarchal society and brassbound anti-abortion laws: an open gateway for the persecution of women for experiencing birth complications or miscarriages— for being women. All in the name of upholding the law. Undoubtedly, this is the reason why femicides are on an alarming rise, particularly in Latin America. In Mexico, according to UN Women’s latest figures, around nine women are murdered every day. The country's criminal code does acknowledge femicide as a recognized crime and defines it as an act, “that deprives a woman of her life for gendered reasons” (UN Women). By this definition, taking the lives of these women and putting them behind bars, for, essentially, their gender, is in fact a form of femicide!
Our patriarchal society seems to have constrained the role of women into three clean-cut categories: the wife, the mother, the reproductive agent. It is for this reason that when a woman seems to be in violation of her three sacred duties, everyone is thrown into a mad frenzy. Miscarriages turn into murder and women who should be undergoing medical care, psychological counseling, love and care, are put behind bars for transgressions unknown.
Miscarriages and other birth complications, however, are not abortions. Abortion is a radically different conversation. Pro-life or pro-choice, we all need to wake up and smell the bullsh**. Let us not allow ourselves to be blinded from the great level of injustice taking place. Because, I do not know about you, but the one thing I know for sure, is that I am pro- justice.