The San Juan Daily Star
Justice Dept. takes part in Denim Day in support of sexual abuse victims
By The Star Staff
Justice Department prosecutors went to court wearing blue jeans in 13 island judicial districts on Wednesday as part of the International Denim Day campaign in solidarity with victims of sexual abuse and in repudiation of sexual assault.
The initiative seeks to educate and promote the rejection of misconceptions about rape whereby victims are often blamed.
Justice Secretary Domingo Emanuelli Hernández said in a written communication: “At the Department of Justice we join the Denim Day campaign today to alert and guide [the public] about it. We encourage victims to report sexual abuse. In prosecutors, they have a voice that defends their rights and seeks to achieve justice for them.”
The secretary cited various misconceptions about rape, such as blaming the victim for causing the crime or believing that the allegations are often false. The Denim Day campaign emerged 24 years ago in Los Angeles, inspired by a case in Rome where a rapist’s conviction was overturned because of the victim’s clothing.
Chief Prosecutor Jessika Correa González said the use of denim is a manifestation of the rejection of misconceptions about sexual violence and a way to promote changes in the justice system to support victims. The initiative is part of the Department of Justice’s activities during Victims’ Rights Week, April 24-28.
Also on Wednesday, on the occasion of Sexual Violence Prevention and Awareness Month, the Office of the Women’s Advocate began an orientation campaign on the prevention of sexual violence.
The initiative, which will be published through social networks and in different mass media, will explain in detail what should be done in the event of sexual assault, abuse or rape, and what victims face in the aftermath of sexual violence.
Similarly, the campaign includes the themes of revenge and lewd acts. It also offers information and figures on victims who report being raped by an acquaintance, as well as the profile of the aggressor.
“We want women to know and be able to identify what sexual violence is, to be alert and put a stop to this abusive and common pattern that unfortunately occurs daily at the hands of people known or as strangers in any scenario of our lives,” said the designated women’s advocate, Madeline Bermúdez Sanabria.
In addition, “all this week we will have personnel assigned to the University Athletic League Fair [Justas] in Mayagüez, guiding youth on the prevention of sexual violence, in collaboration with the Puerto Rico Police and the Committee on Women’s Affairs of the House of Representatives, chaired by Jocelyne Rodríguez Negrón, who will be distributing our telephone number at the sporting event,” Bermúdez said.
Sexual violence can cause anxiety, depression, fear, disorientation, confusion, and feelings of helplessness, guilt, shame and low self-esteem, among other effects, in victims, she pointed out.
“We emphasize in this campaign, as we do every day on our social platforms, that the Office of the Women’s Advocate is available 24/7 to educate, guide, help and listen to people who want to report this or any pattern of abuse,” Bermúdez added.
She encouraged citizens to contact the office through its confidential line, 787-722-2977.
Meanwhile, the Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics announced on Wednesday the creation of a “Femicide Statistics” section to improve access to data and fight against violence against women.
The institute’s executive director, Dr. Orville Disdier, said in a written communication that the tool will allow greater visibility and updating of statistics. Between 2021 and 2022, 40 femicides were registered on the island.
Mariluz Bezares, the statistical project manager at the institute, said that in 2021 there were 23 femicides, while in 2022 there were 17 cases. The information comes through a collaboration with the Puerto Rico Police Bureau, the Institute of Forensic Sciences and the Health Department’s Demographic Registry.
Disdier stressed the institute’s commitment to using innovative technology and having accurate information to design effective public policies in the fight against gender violence.
Bezares, who also coordinates the institute’s Puerto Rico Violent Deaths Notification System (PRVDRS), noted that in 2021, six of every 10 homicides in which the victim was a women were femicides, and in 2022, three of every 10 homicides involving female victims were femicides.
Other data emerging from the new tool include:
Victims of femicide by firearms:
* In 2021, 61% of intimate femicides were with firearms.
* In 2022, 77% of intimate femicides were with firearms.
Intimate femicides by age group:
* In 2021, 61% of intimate femicides occurred among women between the ages of 25 and 44.
* In 2022, 54% of intimate femicides occurred among women between 45 and 64 years of age.
* Nine is the total number of femicides between 2021 and 2022 in which the aggressor committed suicide after killing the victim. Of these, eight were in the context of intimate femicide and one was in the context of family femicide.
* As of March of this year, a total of four cases of femicides had been registered.