Feminist organizations applauded the declaration of a state of emergency due to the rise in cases of gender violence in Puerto Rico by Governor Pedro Pierluisi, after years of fighting for the government to take this action and manage resources in order to address this social evil . However, they anticipate that they will make an evaluation of the scope of the executive order issued.
“Feminist victory!” Exclaimed different organizations that for long months demanded forceful actions from the State and that last Friday they achieved a productive meeting with Pierluisi and the Secretary of the Interior, Noelia García.
Since 2018, under the administration of then-Governor Ricardo Rosselló, the claims began without success and extended to the government of Wanda Vázquez, who declared a “state of national alert” for the murder of women and who was pursuing the integration of all entities public and private in this situation. However, feminist groups insisted that Vázquez’s measure was not enough.
“For us it is a victory because the country had already been requesting that a state of emergency be decreed for two years and, well, it was finally decreed and how it had to be done, with an executive order that includes specific issues to address violence against women In Puerto Rico. We are part of a group of women that met last Friday in La Fortaleza and that day we presented (to the governor) a list of recommendations to address violence against women. Right now our working group is reviewing the executive order versus the recommendations, ”said the executive director of Proyecto Matria, Amárilis Pagán.
The activist commented to THE SPOKESMAN that the executive order recognizes that violence against women is a type of violence with its particular causes and that it is the duty of the State to address this problem. “However, on the issue of education with a gender perspective, they recognize the importance, but if you read the order, there are no specific measures to implement them. I am presuming that the measures that Wanda Vázquez in terms of education with a gender perspective are incorporated in their previous order, but it remains to be seen how La Fortaleza is interpreting it and how it will implement it. Another point is that although three organizations are represented at the work table, we had requested a greater number of organizations ”, he added.
Police statistics show that in 2020 they murdered 44 women and that 11 of these were due to gender violence. This year, the Uniformada data reflects the death of a woman under this problem. Added to this are several transgender women who also died from apparent hate crimes.
Pierluisi’s executive order establishes the appointment of a Compliance Officer, who will report to the governor, to oversee, follow-up and monitor its implementation. It also creates the Committee for the Prevention, Support, Rescue and Education of Gender Violence (PARE Committee) in which 17 members are appointed and increases to three the representation of organizations that are dedicated to providing services and fighting against gender violence .
The PARE Committee will be chaired by the designated secretary of the Department of the Family, Carmen González Magaz, who has a master’s degree and a doctorate from the Carlos Albizu University, her internship and doctoral thesis on gender violence. In this way, Pierluisi placed the head of the Family above the Office of the Procurator for Women (OPM), which is mentioned in the document as the fourth figure within the committee.
The group is also made up of other agencies such as the Department of Justice, the Department of Education (DE), the Department of Housing, the Police Bureau, the Institute of Forensic Sciences and the Institute of Statistics. It includes three representatives from non-profit organizations dedicated to fighting gender violence, a representative from academia, a representative from the media, and the Governor-appointed Compliance Officer.
Likewise, it orders the agencies, in coordination with the Office of Management and Budget (OGP), to identify the internal resources, state, federal and external funds available to comply with the provisions of the executive order, and if necessary to request additional resources to handle the declared emergency.
“All violence is reprehensible, and we have to fight it relentlessly. 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. For too long vulnerable victims have suffered the consequences of systematic machismo, inequity, discrimination, lack of education, lack of guidance and above all, lack of action. It is my duty and my commitment as governor to establish a STOP to gender violence and for these purposes I have declared a state of emergency, ”said the governor when announcing the executive order.
They point to the OPM
Ana Irma Rivera Lassén, feminist activist and senator for the Victory Citizen Movement (MVC), stressed that the executive order is positive because it includes a work schedule and specifically says that adequate statistics must be collected. He referred to a provision of the order that establishes that the PARE Committee must publish a first progress report within 45 days of the first meeting and every 30 days for the duration of the order, which will be until June 30, 2022, extendable by the governor at the request of the PARE Committee.
“There are other areas that concern me, such as where the OPM is located because it seems to me that the order reveals what many people have denounced and that is that this office is inoperative. The OPM is supposed to be able to make the different agencies work in sync on the issue of gender violence. Imagine that the OPM, which is not part of the cabinet, puts it in the scheme below Family ”, he commented.
Other concerns that Rivera Lassén raised is that Familia, as an agency, falls short in addressing this situation and that the decree does not mention transgender women.
Meanwhile, Irma Lugo, from the Gender Equity Observatory, stated that it is a necessary step to guarantee the life and safety of women.
“At the moment we are analyzing the order and the content in light of the proposals. I don’t see any mention of femicides and the handling of statistics, and that is important. Yes, I am glad that there is greater representation in the PARE Committee and the concrete measures that recognize the importance of education with a gender perspective because the analysis has to be broad, “he commented.