Declaration hailed by activists who have been calling for it for years in a country where at least one woman is killed per week.
Puerto Rico has declared a state of emergency over its deeply rooted problem of violence against women, creating new measures militants demanded for years to tackle a deadly tide.
The decision was made on Sunday in U.S. territory, which has seen sustained levels of violence that on average result in the death of one woman per week, measured in a 2019 report and surpassed in last year’s estimates, making echoed the problem in other countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. .
The statement, which also offers protection to gay and transgender people, includes measures such as the creation of a mobile app for victims to seek help and report attacks.
Authorities will create a new program to check with women who have issued restraining orders against abusers, and a new committee will be tasked with implementing the policies and proposing other measures.
Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierluisi said the order aims to combat “an evil that has caused too much damage for too long”.
“The victims have suffered the consequences of systematic machismo, inequality, discrimination, lack of education, lack of guidance and especially lack of action,” he added in a statement.
All violence is wrong and we must fight it relentlessly. Gender-based violence is a social evil, based on ignorance and attitudes that cannot have space or tolerance in the Puerto Rico we aspire to. (1/3)
– Governor Pierluisi (@GovPierluisi) January 24, 2021
Translation: All violence is wrong and we must fight it relentlessly. Gender-based violence is a social evil, based on ignorance and attitudes that cannot have space or tolerance in the Puerto Rico we aspire to.
The statement defines sexual or gender-based violence as conduct that causes physical, sexual or psychological harm to another person motivated by stereotypes.
According to a 2019 report by nonprofit advocacy groups Proyecto Matria and Kilometro Cero, a woman is killed every seven days in Puerto Rico.
Latin America and the Caribbean are among the most dangerous regions for women.
Rights groups have drawn attention to the issue in recent years, organizing protests and pushing for key demands, such as the legalization of abortion in Argentina.
Puerto Rico’s declaration comes just days after a wave of outrage erupted on the island over the death of nurse Angie Noemi Gonzalez at the hands of her partner, who confessed to the crime, media reported .
The island’s rights groups welcomed the declaration, although not perfect, as a first step towards safeguarding women’s lives.
Vilmarie Rivera, President of the Puerto Rico Domestic Violence Shelter Network, said: “The government has recognized that there is an issue that we must address as a priority.”
However, she added that details such as how femicides and transfeminicides are reported, in addition to including gender issues in the school curriculum, need to be refined.
“Today is a great day for the women, girls and all those who believed in the declaration of the state of emergency for gender-based violence, which we have been asking for for three years,” said Lisdel Flores, director from Hogar Ruth, a refuge. for women victims of violence.