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The Growing #NiUnaMasPR Movement: The Fight Against Misogyny

In Puerto Rico, there’s a blatant problem with domestic violence, gender violence, and rape culture. Being in quarantine hasn’t slowed down the rampant cases of violence. There have been quite a few news reports and new cases being revealed during quarantine. Many feminist organizations and collectives have raised their voice about the situation and have denounced the response of police and government officials. The number of femicides and domestic violence cases that have surged during this time, along with posts that have gone viral of survivors of sexual assault and harassment coming forward, telling their stories, and accusing their abusers, has been impactful.

Women are raising their voices against misogyny and sexual harassment and exposing people who have continually abused their positions of power. Many young women, some of them underage, have come forward last month through social media, mostly Facebook and Twitter, to accuse two prominent businessmen in Puerto Rico of sexual harassment and assault. Professors, promoters, business owners, and wealthy yacht owners have been called out via the hashtag #NiUnaMásPR. Through this hashtag, many survivors have told their stories.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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These young women named their abusers and sexual offenders, and, in many cases, multiple women accused the same men. This influx of accusations hit Puerto Rico by storm, though they might not be surprising to some due to the misogynist culture that has been normalized in our society. On the island, machismo culture is one of the key factors in the way these types of cases have been historically ignored. For example, in the language commonly used by the press, news outlets, and police reports, these crimes are often called “crimes of passion” rather than calling for what it is: sexual assault. Language plays a significant part in society, how we perceive the things around us, and how we want others to view things.

Initial accusations surfaced were against Javier Marrero, owner of a part yacht company called Yatea PR, and Julius Ortiz, owner of the swimwear company Pauwii Swim. They were both accused of preying on young women through social media, even promising to be their “sugar daddies.” Some of the things that Ortiz was accused of were touching women with the excuse of sizing them for the bathing suits they were trying on, spanking them, forcefully kissing them, and taking their photographs without permission. Both men harassed women continually in exchange for photos, favors, and luxury visits, usually to yachts. Many of these women have come forward and denounced how the owner of Pauwii Swim had looked for the girls through social media, invited them to try on swimsuits in a store, and would go in the dressing room behind them trying to feel them up and touch them inappropriately.

Jorge Marrero has also been accused of harassing young women through social media, some of who were underage. These accusations further sparked a movement, a phenomenon that was already underway, and the hashtag #NiUnaMenosPR kept spreading like wildfire. This was the catalyst that further jumpstarted women raising their voice and calling out abuse. Other allegations arose after this against other men, including some professors across different campuses of the University of Puerto Rico.

For many, this is considered the arrival of the #MeToo movement to the island, but it had already been here for a while. There have been many brave women actively fighting against misogyny, patriarchy, machismo culture, and raising their voices for the justice of every woman on the island and those that aren’t here anymore. We’ve seen it with protests and movements led by various feminist organizations like Coalición 8 de Marzo, Siempre Vivas, and Campaña por el Aborto Libre, to mention a few.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

No cabe duda. #SIEMPREVIVASRUM #SIEMPREVIVASMETRO

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Cases like the one against the former mayor of Guaynabo, Hector O’Neill, and others involving other people in positions of power, have been some of the focal points that have spurred on conversations on feminist issues. The anger that keeps bubbling up due to the flooding of these types of cases yearly has brought forth protests and activities like the Women’s March or Marcha del 8 de Marzo, in Spanish.

These are only some of the prime examples of how alive the feminist movement is within the island and how people are gaining conscience on these critical social issues. We have been witnesses to people growing tired of social injustice. We have seen it around the world with cases of police brutality, hate crimes, homophobia, and continual examples of systematic oppression. Though the rise in visibility of these cases in social media can also positively impact the collective consciousness of the people, it is an extra outlet that has served as a space to spread misinformation in many cases. However, it has also become an educational space that allows us to connect with what is happening around the island and the world. In the case of #NiUnaMasPR and other movements that have sparked in social media, we see how it has been a vehicle to call out oppression and injustice.

With these social media uprisings, political statements like “El violador eres tú” (“the predator is you”) spawned by the song by Chilean collective Las Tesis, have been heard around the world, and signal that people will no longer stay silent.