Foundation provides $100,000 to help victims of gender violence

By John McPhaul

Given the state of emergency that Puerto Rico is experiencing due to gender violence, the Ángel Ramos Foundation has designated a fund of $100,000 for a program that offers assistance and support to victims of gender violence through the services of legal advocates.

The project, created by the Coordinadora Paz para la Mujer (CPM), offers guidance, assistance and emotional support to victims of violence. It will be implemented in Aguadilla and Mayagüez because they are municipalities with a notable number of cases of gender violence that is out of proportion with the number of legal advocates available.

“The increase in cases of gender violence, especially against women, is alarming. The situations we have experienced in recent years -- hurricanes Irma and Maria, earthquakes and the COVID 19 pandemic -- have highlighted the vulnerability of victims of violence, as well as its effects on the family and community environment,” said Roberto Santa María, president of the Ángel Ramos Foundation. “From the foundation we are joining forces to confront the violence that affects us so much as a society. We know that multiple education and prevention efforts are required, among others, which could be long-term projects. However, the objective of our board of directors is to do something now that can have an immediate impact.”

For the development of the one-year project, CPM will establish alliances with other organizations that offer services to surviving victims of gender violence in the island’s western region.

CPM Executive Director Vilma González noted that “there are many incidents of violence that are not reported or remain invisible.”

“One of the main factors in preventing cases from being processed adequately is the institutional response of the justice system,” she said. “We can find civil servants who show attitudes based on prejudices and ignorance about the problem and its consequences. For this very reason, the role of legal advocates is fundamental. The advocates do not advise or represent, but they intercede, accompany and facilitate so that women can express themselves and defend their rights.”

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