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How Puerto Rican Government Is Combating Gender Violence

The governor of Puerto Rico, Pedro R. Pierluisi, recently called a state of emergency to combat female and transgender violence happening in the U.S. territory. He announced this state of emergency on Jan. 24 and enacted a series of policies to fight “femicides.” This term is defined as the murder of women because they are women. In 2020, approximately 60 direct and indirect femicides were committed, according to CNN. This is not a new occurrence and is only recently being acknowledged. Moreover, in comparison to countries like Peru and the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico has experienced more severe situations. Leaders who governed the territory years prior refused to confront this dire issue, and now people are protesting for freedom, human rights and a voice during such frightening times.

Many people are being killed amidst a wave of transphobic and homophobic violence. A transgender man named Samuel Edmund Damián Valentín was shot multiple times and left on the side of the road the day of Jan. 9. He was found dead because a woman was driving down a busy road at night, she hit something, pulled over, and got out of her car to discover it was a person, NBC News explains. Valentín spoke out against the violence, conveying his hope for the island to be a safe place without killings. He is now an icon on social media by local advocates who call for justice for him and every other victim.


Woman in Puerto Rico
Photo by PicJumbo from Pexels

This demand for a state of emergency is crucial for the safety of women and the LGTBQ community within this region. Femicide and murders alike have been occurring for multiple decades; allegedly, a quarter of women in Latin American countries experience violence in their relationships at least once in their lifetime. The activist and feminist groups have been demanding change in Puerto Rico for almost three years, an interview with NPR states. They have beseeched a social change ever since increases in domestic violence and murders at the hands of women’s intimate partners were noticed months after Hurricane Maria.

Many ideas are being constructed to solve this issue. The governor explains that the Department of Education has been ordered to include gender equality and domestic violence in the curriculum. Now, students will be taught to notice adversity and prevent it early on. Also, it has been decided that the community will encourage a launch of media campaigns to educate people and society about gender violence. Another order claims that they must create a mobile app for victims to seek assistance and report their assailants. Also, authorities aim to offer a program that will look over the women who have filed for restraining orders in case they are still in danger.

“Gender violence is a social evil, based on ignorance and attitudes that cannot have space or tolerance in the Puerto Rico that we aspire to,” Pierluisi explained at a press release.

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I am a senior at FSU pursuing an English degree in Editing, Writing and Media with a minor in Professional Communication. I am happy to express my passion for literature through Her Campus magazine.
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