• The Star Staff

Social workers demand a state of emergency amid wave of gender violence cases

By The Star Staff

As part of the organization’s celebration of 80 years of service, Puerto Rico Social Workers Association (CPTSPR by its Spanish initials) President Mabel López Ortiz, along with vice presidents Lydael Vega Otero and Esterla Barreto, reiterated on Thursday the need to declare a national emergency to address gender violence on the island, as well as the need to improve employment conditions for social work professionals.

“Today [Thursday] we celebrate the proclamation of social work month, and the CPTSPR continues to petition on the need for a national emergency declaration to address gender violence in the country, as well as the integration of the gender perspective curriculum in our schools,” López Ortiz said in a written statement. “We also demand answers, explanations and solutions for the disappearances of women and children, as well as equitable access for our children and youth to education in times of pandemic.”

Vega Otero meanwhile made an urgent call for wage justice for social work professionals and for providing them with better working conditions.

“The government agencies [whose mission is to] protect and serve the needs of children, youth and the elderly in the country must provide better human and fiscal resources to our professionals to ensure the continuity of the services that our people need so much,” Vega Otero said. “The volume of social situations we face as a country does not match the available services.”

The CPTSPR leaders noted that “the role and actions of the social work professional is questioned, when the main reasons for the inability in the country to make quality services accessible to citizens depend on the human and fiscal resources allocated for those services.”

Barreto added that “[s]ituations such as the rise in intra-family violence, gender violence, food insecurity, lack of access to education for our children, among others, have been denounced by the professional organization as human rights issues which, by not being addressed, end up in violations of the law.”

López Ortiz stated that “we have consistently demanded a comprehensive inter-agency assistance plan that brings together sectors of non-governmental and community organizations, and professional unions, to serve, assist and accompany our citizens.”

“Declare social services as essential and that they be built from a human rights perspective,” she said.

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