The Per Anger Prize to Teodora del Carmen Vásquez, El Salvador
She gave birth to a stillborn child, was accused of abortion, and sentenced to 30 years in prison for murder. After ten years of imprisonment, she was released. Despite the danger it implies, she fights for other women subjected to the same treatment and for a change in abortion laws. She fought from inside the prison, and she continues to fight after her release. The Living History Forum awards this year's Per Anger Prize, the Swedish Government's international prize for supporting human rights and democracy, to Teodora del Carmen Vásquez from El Salvador.
El Salvador has invariably banned abortion. Teodora del Carmen Vásquez was sentenced to 30 years in prison after giving birth to a stillborn child. After ten years of imprisonment, she was released. Despite the danger implied, she has fought for women’s sexual and reproductive rights in El Salvador – both from inside the prison and after her release.
To acknowledge the devastating consequences of restrictive abortion laws on women's lives in El Salvador, the 2018 Per Anger Prize, awarded by The Living History Forum on behalf of the Swedish Government, goes to Teodora del Carmen Vásquez, nominated by the Swedish section of Amnesty International.
– Teodora del Carmen Vásquez has turned personal pain into power to help others. Continuing to fight after ten years in prison is not only remarkable, it also requires great courage, says Ingrid Lomfors, Director of The Living History Forum and chairman of the jury for the Per Anger Prize.
The prize winner was born in 1983 in the Ahuachapán region in El Salvador. Today, she is a famous women's rights activist in her country, working to change abortion laws and support other women imprisoned.
– Getting the imprisoned women released is what drives me. The Per Anger Prize is not primarily a prize to me; it is a symbol of the continued fight for human rights for women, says Teodora del Carmen Vásquez.
Teodora del Carmen Vásquez will be receiving the Per Anger Prize on 8 November at a ceremony at Göta Lejon in Stockholm. The prize will be presented by the responsible minister.
The Per Anger Prize is the Swedish Government’s international prize for supporting human rights and democracy. The prize was established in 2004 to acknowledge the initiatives of Per Anger during World War II, when he saved Hungarian Jews from the Holocaust. The Living History Forum has been commissioned by the Government to award the prize annually.
The following ten international organisations have participated in the nomination for the Per Anger Prize: Amnesty International, Afrikagrupperna, Civil Rights Defenders, Diakonia, the International Commission of Jurists, Kvinna till Kvinna, the UNA Sweden, Reporters Without Borders, Swedish PEN, and the Church of Sweden.