Beaten, suffocated, forced into an abortion: the fate of one Venezuelan woman under Maduro

Latest Amnesty International report documents ongoing state detention and torture in the South American country – all while its president seeks renewed links with the west

Luke Taylor, The Guardian
Tue 29 Aug 2023

When Emirlendris Benítez suddenly went missing in August 2018, her family feared the worst. So they were incredulous to hear Venezuela’s attorney general announce on television 10 days later that she had been detained on a motorway and arrested for orchestrating a plot to assassinate President Nicolás Maduro with a drone.

The 42-year-old tradeswoman was sentenced to 30 years in prison and remains behind bars in Caracas where Amnesty International says she has been the victim of some of the most egregious human rights abuses.


The women calling for reform of Venezuela’s severe anti-abortion laws – in pictures

by Weronika Strzyżyńska
Photographs by Magda Gibelli
Tue 8 Aug 2023

Century-old legislation in the South American country decrees up to six years in prison for those who have or provide abortions. Despite demands for change, the government shows no sign of reforming the 1926 law. Only in 2000 was it amended to allow for abortions to save the life of the pregnant woman. Venezuelans have been turning to online sellers of abortion pills or paying for costly and illegal procedures in a doctor’s office

Ketsy Medina, 40, smiles at her baby during an interview in Caracas last month. Ketsy previously had a miscarriage and felt judged by the nurses and doctors at the hospital, who treated her suspiciously as if she had caused an abortion. Venezuela, a fervently Catholic and conservative country, punishes ‘induced abortion’ with sentences of up to six years. The penalties are reduced when the abortion involves saving the ‘honour’ of the woman or her family, and the offence is pardoned if it is to ‘save the life of the woman in labour’


‘Too many children’ as women denied abortion in Venezuela


Caracas (AFP) – Maria drank a concoction of ground avocado seed, "bad mother" and other plants to try and terminate her pregnancy in Venezuela, where abortion is illegal. It did not work.

Only people with money can access illegal, private abortions in the country, and Maria is not one of them. Aged just 26, she lives with two of her five children in extreme poverty in Caracas in a house shared with other people.

The child she tried to abort is now three years old. She had another since then, 10 months ago.


More than 25 NGOs intensify their fight to legalize abortion in Venezuela

by Lance Vaughn 
September 10, 2022

Some 25 Venezuelan NGOs, grouped in the Ruta Verde platform, intensify their fight to legalize abortion with the collection against the clock of 21,000 signatures that must be attached to the bill on sexual and reproductive rights that they will take to Parliament, which will have to debate if it advances until become normative.

The platform intends for there to be a sexual and reproductive education that provides knowledge about contraceptive methods, abortion in different cases and the options that women have to face unwanted pregnancies.


Venezuelan women lose access to contraception, and control of their lives

By Julie Turkewitz and Isayen Herrera, New York Times
February 20, 2021

SAN DIEGO DE LOS ALTOS, Venezuela — The moment Johanna Guzmán, 25, discovered she was going to have her sixth child, she began to sob, crushed by the idea of bringing another life into a nation in such decay.

For years, as Venezuela spiraled deeper into an economic crisis, she and her husband had scoured clinics and pharmacies for any kind of birth control, usually in vain. They had a third child. A fourth. A fifth.


Venezuela Women’s Groups Halt Abortion Services After Activist Arrest

Jan. 11, 2021

CARACAS (Reuters) - Women's activists in Venezuela have largely halted unofficial abortion services after the arrest of a university professor who helped a 13-year-old girl to end a pregnancy, according to 10 women's rights advocates interviewed by Reuters.

Police in October raided the home of Vannesa Rosales in the northwestern state of Merida and arrested her. Her lawyer says she will likely be charged with inducing an abortion and conspiring to commit a crime for her role in helping the girl terminate a pregnancy after being raped.


Venezuela: Judicial harassment against woman rights defender Vannesa Rosales

Venezuela: Judicial harassment against woman
rights defender Vannesa Rosales

23 December 2020
Front Line Defenders

On 22 December 2020 the lawyers of woman human rights defender Vannesa Rosales
filed a constitutional appeal before the Court of Appeals of Merida. In the
appeal her lawyers requested that the authorities comply with the rights and
constitutional guarantees of the defender, in particular that she be allowed to
be free pending any legal process against her, and that she face charges only
based on her actions, not on her advocacy for women’s rights.


A heartbreaking sign of Venezuela’s deepening child welfare crisis

Baranyai: A heartbreaking sign of Venezuela's deepening child welfare crisis

Robin Baranyai, Special to Postmedia News
Updated: March 6, 2020

The graphic is straightforward but shocking: a red circle crossed through with a line — the universal symbol for nope — imposed over a stick figure standing next to a trash bin. Dangling upside down above the garbage is a small stick figure in a diaper.

“Prohibido botar beb(C)s,” the text reads: “Dumping babies is forbidden.”


“These are basic women’s needs”: Treating Venezuelan women in Colombia

“These are basic women’s needs”: Treating Venezuelan women in Colombia

Report from Médecins Sans Frontières
Published on 27 Sep 2019

Mirla Milagro remembers when she and her children ate three meals a day in Venezuela. She gave manicures and cleaned houses, and they got by. Their medical needs were all covered by the Venezuelan health system.

When the clinics started experiencing stock-outs of medicines and supplies, volunteer doctors from Cuba stepped in. But after a while, there seemed to be no medicine anywhere, and if they were available, they were too expensive. Milagro’s income also dried up. Food became difficult to get. “If we had breakfast, we’d have nothing for lunch,” she said. “If we had lunch, there would be no dinner. Sometimes we’d eat something at noon and leave a little for later. It really got bad.”


Venezuela – This Woman Performed Her Own Abortion — And Was Lucky To Survive

This Woman Performed Her Own Abortion — And Was Lucky To Survive
After barely surviving two illegal abortions, Beatriz sells birth control on the black market to help other women in Venezuela, as the economic and political crisis deepens.

Karla Zabludovsky, BuzzFeed News Reporter
Posted on February 28, 2019

CARACAS, Venezuela — With a flick of the wrist, Beatriz pulled out two strips of birth control pills from her top.

Contraceptives are in short supply in Venezuela, with most pharmacies sold out, so it’s largely up to black marketeers like Beatriz to supply women with them. And despite their exorbitant price tag — on the street, $1 gets you a month’s birth control, but that represents a week’s salary — the pills remain highly sought after.