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  • The San Juan Daily Star

Shelter program for battered women & children receives $250,000

Interim Women’s Advocate Madeline Bermúdez Sanabria

By John McPhaul

Interim Women’s Advocate Madeline Bermúdez Sanabria announced on Sunday a budget allocation of $250,000 to the Pre-Vocational and Industrial Institute of Puerto Rico, which will allow the nonprofit to continue offering services for victims and survivors of domestic violence, in the regions of Arecibo and Mayagüez, under the Safe House for Women and Children (CAPROMUNI) program.

Bermúdez Sanabria reiterated that it is important to highlight and support the work of nonprofits and their programs, such as CAPROMUNI, because they are efforts that contribute to the daily struggle that is promoted from the Office of the Women’s Advocate (OPM by its Spanish initials) to eradicate domestic violence from Puerto Rican culture and society.

“With this assignment to the CAPROMUNI program, once again the public policy of Governor [Pedro] Pierluisi against gender-based violence is realized,” the interim women’s advocate said. “In this way, we ensure that the CAPROMUNI program can continue to provide a service that is crucial for victims of gender-based violence, as well as their children and other close family members, to be able to break out of the cycle of abuse and empower themselves, particularly through the shelter services that are also essential life-saving services. Gender-based violence is a social problem that harms women, their support resources and the people they are close to.”

Nilsa López Rivera, the founder and principal executive officer of CAPROMUNI, expressed appreciation for the effort by Bermúdez Sanabria and the entire OPM team to resuscitate the organization’s budget and keep its shelter open.

“CAPROMUNI is a program aimed at offering shelter and guidance to battered women and their dependents, so that they can overcome victimization resulting from gender-based violence,” López Rivera said. “Establishing and operating this program requires an effort that crosses organizational, public and private boundaries. This budget allocation allows us to improve existing resources, coordinating and integrating services to reach women and their families more quickly and effectively, and maintaining the operation of the shelter.”

In addition to temporary shelter, CAPROMUNI offers to victims and survivors of gender-based violence crisis intervention; mental health assessment and treatment; psychological services; individual and group counseling; legal advice and advocacy; infirmary services; and guidance and support in a safe, healthy and loving environment.

Bermúdez Sanabria stressed that the assignment joins other efforts by the central government administration to strengthen organizations that provide services to women who are victims of abuse. Those services include economic self-sufficiency projects for women of low and moderate income, sexual health programs and services, and reproductive as well as prevention and educational services with innovative strategies on gender-based violence and discrimination that are essential for empowering women and their families.

Also under the open-call $1 million budget item from commonwealth funds under the Committee Against Gender Violence (PARE) assigned by the governor, vehicles and electrical generators are granted to shelters to ensure the provision of services to victims of domestic violence and their children 24/7.

Last week, organizations that presented proposals and met eligibility requirements were notified of the assignment.

“The priority for allocating this $1 million is aimed at support services to victims of gender-based violence that are offered by nonprofit, faith-based, community-based organizations and specialized coalitions recognized for their track record in providing direct services to victims and survivors of gender-based violence,” the interim women’s advocate reiterated.

Other organizations benefiting from the assignment include the Hogar Nueva Mujer Santa María de la Merced, Julia de Burgos Shelter, Casa Ruth, Juana Colón Home for Support and Guidance to Women, Casa Pensamiento de Mujer del Centro, Vida Plena Community Services Center and San Juan Bautista School of Medicine. Also receiving support are the ALAS la Mujer Foundation, the University of Puerto Rico Río Piedras Campus School of Law’s Comprehensive Support Center for Victims, and the Support Center for Victims of Crime attached to Inter American University of Puerto Rico, among others.

Bermúdez Sanabria also announced that the OPM achieved the approval of another budget item of $350,000, which will allow the office to strengthen the direct services it offers to victims of gender violence in Puerto Rico.

She reminded the victims of domestic violence and abuse in any form that they are not alone. She also urged victims of domestic violence or assault to report their abuser and seek help, through Orientation Line A OPM Victims Of Domestic Violence: 787-722-2977.

“At OPM we are to support them,” Bermúdez Sanabria said.

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