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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Women’s advocate issues call to prevent sexual violence

By The Star Staff

As part of the commemoration of Sexual Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, which is celebrated every year in Puerto Rico in April, the acting Women’s Advocate Madeline Bermúdez Sanabria called on the community to raise awareness about the malignant social problem, to denounce it and, more importantly, to prevent it.

The sociologist noted that sexual violence is defined as any sexual act, attempt to consummate a sexual act, unwanted sexual comments or advances, as well as actions to commercialize or use in any way a person’s sexuality through coercion, regardless of the relationship of the person to the victim, in any environment, including the home and workplace. Statistics and evidence-based practice suggest that anyone can be a victim of sexual violence at some stage of their lives, as the perpetrator does not discriminate on the basis of age, race, gender, education or social status.

“We have to understand that sexual violence can be exercised by anyone, within a couple, family relationship, between acquaintances or people who have no relationship, and can affect children, young people, adult women and the elderly,” Bermúdez Sanabria said. “Therefore, it is urgent that we understand the implications of sexual violence for people’s physical, mental and emotional health, and work to eradicate this behavior.”

As part of the educational calendar of the Office of the Women’s Advocate (OPM by its Spanish initials), during April a series of events will be held to provide guidance on sexual violence: how to identify, report, and seek help. Also, the OPM headquarters in Hato Rey will be lit up in teal throughout the month.

Among the events is a virtual workshop on sexual violence in the workplace to be held next Monday, April 8, from 10:30 a.m. to noon. It is free of charge and open to the entire population, particularly women, employers, human resources personnel and supervisors.

Meanwhile, through an agreement with the Psychologists Association of Puerto Rico, an initiative aimed at protecting and empowering the deaf community on the island to prevent sexual assaults will be announced. Along with this effort is the expansion of the services offered by the OPM through new satellite offices in several municipalities.

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