How to support the feminist movement in Puerto Rico
More than a month has passed since the murders of Keishla Rodríguez and Andrea Ruiz and the media reports about gender-based violence in Puerto Rico has dissipated.
However, feminists organizations in Puerto Rico are always educating, protecting, and proposing policies to better protect women and members of the LGBTTQI+ community in Puerto Rico.
That is why today we want to reflect on the media’s role in covering gender-based violence and share a list of organizations you can support.
The importance of historical context
Femicide cases in Puerto Rico are all too common and often we don’t hear the victims’ name. This time around, there was more media visibility because the alleged murder of Rodríguez was a well-known boxer.
Part of our role as media should be to contextualize these cases. That is, not just focus on one murder but the system that puts women and members of the LGBTTIQ+ at risk.
For example, in 1988 basketball player Richie Pietri brutally murdered his wife Ivonne Rodríguez. It was this case, the way the media sympathized with the victim, a growing feminist movement, and dedicated senators that led Puerto Rico to pass a law that criminalizes domestic violence in August 15, 1989. Law 54 was ahead of its time, it was the first criminalization of domestic violence in Latin America and it was passed years before the U.S. passed VAWA.
Although it was written carefully, the implementation of Law 54 has failed mostly because there hasn’t been adequate training to law enforcement who continue to dismiss warnings such as the one Andrea Ruiz made.
What is the role of feminist organizations?
For decades, feminist organizations have been the ones ensuring that Law 54 is followed and many times they do the government’s job with a much smaller budget.
That is why their main demand is to implement a state of emergency so the government can put more resources to better protect victims of gender based violence.Even though governor Pedro Pierluisi declared a State of Emergency in January 2021, there haven’t been tangible actions and the feminist organizations that led the movement haven’t been included in the process.
So, we’re learning from our history. A law or state of emergency doesn’t adequately protect us if actions do not follow the word.
So, what can I do to help?
It’s easy to feel helpless and overwhelmed amidst gruesome murders and government inaction. But there is something we can do. We can support the organizations that have been protecting women and queer folks, we can share information so these truths don’t go unnoticed, and we can ask lawmakers to implement the policies that are recomended by these groups.
Here’s a list so you can learn more and support these groups.
Organizations that empower women and survivors of gender-based violence
Paz para la Mujer: Coalition of 38 organizations and 14 members whose mission is to eradicate gender-based violence through support, education, and movilizations.
Taller Salud: Community organization that grants access to healthcare, economic development, and educates about gender-based violence.
Alas para la Mujer: Non-profit that provides support to victims of gender violence in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean.
Proyecto Matria: Organization that offers housing, incubates social-community enterprises and sustainable solutions to women and members of the LGBTTQI+ community.
Organizations that protect victims of gender-based violence
Casa Protegida Julia de Burgos: Since 1979, this organization has been offering emergency shelter and security protocol for victims of gender-based violence and their children.
Red de Albergues PR: Organization that coordinates all the emergency housing for victims of gender-based violence.
Hogar Nueva Mujer: Emergency housing for victims of domestic violence and their children.
Casa de la Bondad: This organization offers housing and services such as education, legal representation, therapy, and social work.
Hogar Ruth: Offers emergency housing and other services to support survivors of domestic violence.
Casa Pensamiento de Mujer del Centro: Offers services for women, men and members of the LGBTTIQAP community that face domestic violence or sexual aggressions.
Casa Juana Colón: Supports gender-based violence survivors.