Gov’t launches ‘inclusive’ educational campaign to tackle gender violence

By Pedro Correa Henry

Twitter: @pete_r_correa

Special to The Star

Six months after the creation of the Prevention, Support, Rescue and Education (PARE by its Spanish acronym) Committee and the declaration of a gender violence emergency back on Jan. 25, Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia, along with Family Secretary Carmen Ana González, unveiled a multimedia campaign Tuesday that seeks to educate islanders to identify the various forms of gender violence and to have adequate resources for tackling the problem.

During a press conference held at La Fortaleza’s Central Communications Office, Pierluisi acknowledged the efforts of González, Compliance Officer Ileana Espada and the PARE subcommittees “who have worked hard on all fronts to eradicate this social evil.”

“I have been clear that this is a priority for me and my administration,” he said. “This teaches us that we are all responsible for this struggle, that we have to look within ourselves and make sure we are not part of the problem, and instead, we are part of the solution.”

“I call on all Puerto Ricans to join and work together for a Puerto Rico that respects life and human dignity,” Pierluisi added. “I am convinced we can do this together.”

González, meanwhile, said the campaign, titled “El Momento del PARE” (The Time to STOP), includes 23 digital illustrations that portray different emotions that can perpetuate gender-based violence among children, adults and couples.

“What is different about this campaign is that it is not directed exclusively at gender violence victims, it is an inclusive campaign that aside from speaking to the victim, it speaks to the aggressor, it speaks to the fathers and mothers who are educating our next generation,” said the PARE Committee chief. “It speaks to every person who lives in Puerto Rico, because we are all responsible for stopping gender violence, regardless of our age, race, color, sex or sexual orientation.”

“We are all responsible for creating a Puerto Rico free of violence,” she added.

The committee also launched the website, which includes gender violence statistics, educational resources, a directory that includes emergency phone lines, and non-profit organizations that address needs for both women and LGBTQ+ residents, and registries of domestic violence convicts and sexual offenders in one platform.

“[The past several months] have been hard work filled with challenges, dedication, but, above all, a joint vision framed in respect, diversity, support and the collaboration of experts from non-governmental and governmental organizations, which has led to a transformation to take forceful action aimed at education, prevention and eradication of gender violence in all its manifestations,” said Espada, the PARE Committee compliance officer.

She noted that the educational campaign’s production was pro-bono and the media advertising was covered as a public service announcement.

When asked if the campaign will facilitate the implementation of a gender perspective in the island education system next August, González said the committee is working first on a phase that seeks to educate personnel from different government entities that address family matters, including the Department of Education.

“As we are beginning to train all teachers, who are committed, and other members of the school community, definitely, from the moment we return to school, this training will reflect on all the behaviors portrayed in schools and their classrooms,” she said. “However, as we said that we were going to implement it next semester, that implementation might get delayed for a bit as we seek to conduct more in-depth training and our goal to make it effective.”

Meanwhile, when The STAR asked how the administration will seek to convert the PARE Committee’s efforts into public policies, as most members of the New Progressive Party (NPP) legislative delegation either refrain from voting on or vote against bills that aim to increase gender equality, Pierluisi said he respects NPP delegates’ decisions although he identifies with the committee’s work.

“Ideology enters into this equation, and some [legislators] vote for or against bills due to ideological or partisan reasons,” he said. “I created the PARE Committee and I will decide based on the committee’s advice whenever I have to sign or consider a bill that involves their work; the chances are high that I side with the committee.”

“I think that their [NPP lawmakers’] vote should be individual in this type of matter, and should not be a vote under a caucus ruling,” Pierluisi added. “They should vote according to their conscience because we know that we have differences, and I bet that other parties have differences, too.”

The governor went on to say that even though Senate Bill 130, a measure that seeks to define femicides and transfemicides as first-degree murder, which obligates the state to recover data from a more specific standpoint, has not reached his desk, he will consider the PARE Committee’s opinion on the bill.

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