After the murders of four women, activists claim the absence of a successful policy to prevent gender violence

The murder of four women over the weekend -two of them in the midst of incidents of gender violence- reveals the absence of sound and continuous government policy aimed at preventing this type of incidents that, like other manifestations of violence, dismay the country, said expert voices consulted.

On Friday, just at the beginning of her workday at a business in Caguas, Mariliz Montanez Rivera, 31, was murdered by a man who, according to authorities, was stalking her. Meanwhile, on Saturday Nashma Vazquez Cornier was shot dead. Due to the events, recorded in Anasco, charges of femicide and domestic violence were filed against her husband Angel Lopez.

Two other women died this Sunday in San Juan and Carolina. Related to these incidents, at the time of this publication, the identity of the victims, as well as the possible causes of death, were unknown. The deaths had also not been included in official Police statistics.

Until this Saturday, according to official Police data, 25 women had been murdered during the year. Of them, 12 died at the hands of their partner or ex-partner. However, statistics from the Gender Equality Observatory indicate that 47 women died violently in 2023.

”Six women murdered in one week. “It is very strong”said Irma Lugo, coordinator of the Observatory for Gender Equality, also remembering the deaths of Rosa Calderon and Luz Carrillo. The first was one of the victims of the shooting that occurred on Tuesday outside the Caguas Court and, the second, she died from gunshots received in a shootout in Trujillo Alto.

Yesterday, Governor Pedro Pierluisi expressed himself “dismayed” and reaffirmed his commitment to “continue to develop proactive initiatives both to prevent and stop violence. Every life that is lost shatters a future and irreparably impacts a family and its community,” he said in a publication through his social networks.

They accuse the government of “lack of commitment”

There is no effort from the government in which we sit down to do a multi-sector analysis to see the roots of the problem. and, at the same time, that there is a will to give a response. There has to be a country’s view of where we want to go, we deserve it. We deserve to be in peace, so that our daughters can leave in peace,” Lugo stressed.

In January 2021, and in response to a collective complaint about the rampant wave of murders of women that the country was experiencing, the governor issued an emergency declaration due to gender violence. After a year and a half, in June 2022, he decided to extend it until June 30 of this year, when he issued a new extension for six months.

During that time, the Prevention, Support, Rescue and Education Committee (PARE) – which ceased its functions in August 2022 – worked as an advisory council and, as part of its work, evaluated the existing protocols for the management – from the government – of incidents of gender violence, managing to develop new public policy.

It also developed, with the support of the third sector, a curriculum for education with a gender perspective, but implementation efforts were unsuccessful.

Lisdel Flores, director of the Ruth Home, highlighted what she described as a “Lack of compromise” of the government to expand educational and prevention efforts, a primary responsibility of the State.”If we (the shelters) are working so hard it is because the prevention message is not getting through. We should not exist. “We are falling short in information and in the prevention message,” he noted.

For the specialist, incidents such as those recorded over the weekend generate a “boom” of reactions and exchanges of information. But, he explained, as the days go by, this massification is reducing and the message about the available services and rights of each of the victims is no longer conveyed.

”We don’t have to keep waiting for them to kill us to go out and talk about this. “It has to be part of the country’s public policy and it has to be part of what we do as a country to educate ourselves.”he asserted.

Like Lugo, Flores stressed the need to address the matter from a health perspectiveas well as joining forces with organizations that work directly with survivors in order to guarantee the continuity of services.

They warn about delays in granting funds

Coraly Leon Morales, President of the Board of Directors of the Shelter Network, said that in these particular months – between June and September – organizations face the challenges implied by the delay in the granting of funds they receive through subsidies. And although this is money that comes from the federal government, locally it is distributed by the government.

”The services offered by organizations to victims must be recognized as essential services and prevent shelters from being at risk year after year,” Indian.

Like her fellow activists, she maintained that there is concern over the lack of scaffolding to prevent incidents like these from occurring.

“It is not just doing what is done from the shelters, which is protecting your life and that of your childhood, it is establishing proven strategies. “We have a lot, a lot left to work on.”he pointed out.

Leon Morales recognized correct steps, such as the recognition of economic violence as one of the modalities -covered by Law 54- that survivors of sexist violence face, but insisted on teaching and working from a gender perspective.

OPM will continue to emphasize prevention efforts

The assistant attorney for Education and Integrated Services of the Office of the Women’s Attorney (OPM), Dr. Barbara Umpierre, recognized the need for “continue to emphasize” prevention efforts, which, he said, are “a proven strategy.”

”The expectation is that no incidents of violence occur and that women are safe in all spaces,” she said.

The official mentioned that they have worked on various educational campaigns, such as “Put on the Brakes”, Aimed at high school and college students. This effort aims to identify possible warning signs.

Meanwhile, a second initiative seeks to recognize the micromachismos, which “many times we normalize and even make them part of everyday life.”

The OPM counseling line, which operates 24 hours a day, has received 1,300 calls in 2023.

”We must know how to identify what these collateral signals are and we must, then, make an approach and be a resource for help. This is everyone’s responsibility,” she said.

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