On the evening of October 28, a group of students from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez protested bare chested in front of the Colegio’s fountain as a sign of repudiation towards the vandalism acts committed in Santurce the night before, where a mural of a naked woman was sprayed with white paint over her naked body, simulating underwear. The group of protestors, both men and women outraged by the vandalism acts committed, took the opportunity to raise their voice against misogyny and gender violence, which was the original purpose of the mural itself, dedicated to woman who had been victims of domestic abuse.
Original mural at Santurce, photo by El Nuevo Día
Lenis Ramos, an activist for ‘Siempre Vivas,‘an organization at UPRM that seeks to protect women who have been victims of gender violence, explained how the manifestation on campus was happening simultaneously with a manifestation at San Juan, where the vandalism acts had taken place. The purpose was to be topless for five minutes, yet as many more people than expected joined the event, the protesters took shifts in doing so.
Vandalized mural at Santurce, photo by El Nuevo Día
Miriam, one of the protesters, expressed how nervous she felt about standing naked in front of the world. Yet, by doing so, she felt part of a revolutionary movement that would help women feel comfortable in their own skin, regardless the society’s shaming of the female body. For Nadia, the experience was enlightening and powerful, “Women should not be ashamed of their bodies, specially of their breasts, because their purpose is to feed, to nourish the lives that we are capable of bringing into the world.” she concluded, explaining that she felt powerful for participating in favor of the cause of women’s rights.
According to the statistics provided by the ‘Oficina de la Procuradora de las Mujeres,’ last year in Puerto Rico 3 women died as a result of gender violence, while 5,121 reported to be victims. Gender equality and violence against woman is still an ongoing fight in our society. It is our responsibility to be informed and proactive towards the advancement of women’s rights. The brave actions committed today, where protesters of both genders showed solidarity towards the cause, give us hope that this new generation is aware of the misogyny in our society and is willing to end it, once and for all.
Protesters at UPRM