Women’s rights organization blames government for killings
By John McPhaul
The Matria Project, an organization that fights for the rights of women and advances the economic development of women in Puerto Rico, criticized the island government and called it “responsible for our murders.”
“Every time the Governor turns her back on the claim of a State of Emergency for Gender Violence, she becomes responsible for our murders,” attorney Amárilis Pagán Jiménez, executive director of Proyecto Matria, said in a written statement in reaction to the slaying of young Rosimar Rodríguez Gómez. “Every time the Advocate gives an excuse for not doing her job, she helps to pull the trigger of the weapon with which they kill us. Every time a legislator teams up with self-described conservative forces to legislate against fairness, she pats bullies and murderers on the back. There is no greater corruption than that of legislating and acting based on gender discrimination. And that corruption is costing us lives.”
“Since we found out about the case, we called it kidnapping. But the Puerto Rico Police spoke of disappearance. From there, they started badly,” Pagán Jiménez added. “What did we expect as a country? That her kidnappers would return her alive? After days without hearing from her, after wasting time without initiating a well executed investigation, in the midst of a state of emergency where the government’s message is one of impunity?”
“This case touches us all because we know that there is no way to do justice. Justice would be that as a country we would have achieved education for equality, campaigns for people to identify danger signs, security agencies with sensitivity and also with expertise to handle these cases immediately and effectively. Justice would be to have been ready and willing so that neither Rosimar nor any other young woman from our motherland had to live and die in violence. Justice would be for Rosimar to be alive and safe with her family,” Pagán Jiménez said. “We are fed up with the aggressions and also with the complicity of the State and of the politicians who presume to lead the country without committing to women, their peace, development and safety.”
The organization expressed its solidarity with the family of Rodríguez Gómez and said that they are not alone.
“We know they need space right now,” the attorney said. “We hope that the press understands this and that the agencies called to act do so with sensitivity. We are here for you.”
Matria reiterated the importance of recognizing that women are kidnapped in Puerto Rico and that the Police act slowly in those cases.
“As with dating violence, the reaction is often one of disparaging the seriousness of the matter and acting without due diligence. That cannot continue to happen,” Pagán Jiménez said. “Agencies are accountable. In this case, they must explain what they have done since day one when the family reported the kidnapping. What did you do? When? What was your plan? I hope they don’t answer that they were waiting for tips because that is pure ineptitude.”
According to Matria, some of the recommendations the group has repeatedly made to the government sector include:
1. Maintain educational campaigns aimed not only at women, but also at communities and men.
2. Implement a model of education for equity in all public schools on the island.
3. Have trained personnel in all agencies of the security system so that they can identify signs of lethality when responding to calls or requests for services.
4. Financially strengthen organizations specialized in gender violence so that there is a support network throughout all of Puerto Rico.
5. Recognize risk factors such as COVID-19 quarantine, natural disasters, and economic hardship and have responses that are appropriate to them.
6. Alert the health system to fulfill its duty to identify and report to the authorities cases in which there are signs of gender violence.
7. Implement gender violence management protocols and evaluate the performance of the personnel in charge of them.
8. Publish protocols for the management of gender violence in disaster situations, including those applicable to shelters.
Anyone interested in learning more about Matria can access the following page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ProyectoMatria/