Puerto Rico was placed under a state of emergency due to a spate of gender-based violence targeting women and transgender people, CNN reported.
Gov. Pedro Pierluisi, who was sworn into office earlier in January, announced the executive order Sunday, according to CNN, which translated the news release. Activists had pushed for the order over several years, citing a crisis of gender-based violence that sometimes resulted in murders.
BREAKING: Puerto Rico’s Governor declares a state of emergency to deal with gender based violence on the island which has become a deadly epidemic in recent years. pic.twitter.com/td8b2dzrgk
— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) January 24, 2021
“Gender violence is a social evil, based on ignorance and attitudes that cannot have space or tolerance in the Puerto Rico that we aspire to,” Pierluisi said, according to the Miami Herald. “It is my duty and my commitment as governor to establish a STOP to gender violence and for these purposes I have declared a state of emergency.”
The state of emergency will be in effect until June 30, 2022.
Gender-based violence in Puerto Rico appeared to have worsened after Hurricane Maria in 2017 and again during the coronavirus pandemic, CNN reported. The Gender Equality Observatory said that at least 60 direct and indirect femicides were reported in 2020, and included 6 trans femicides. In 2020, at least 5,517 women were victims of domestic violence, police said, according to CNN.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) also reported in 2012 that Puerto Rico had the highest per capita rate of women over 14 killed by their partners. (RELATED: COVID-19 Linked To 112% Increase In Domestic Homicides In Texas County, Experts Say)
The order follows the death of Angie Noemi González, a nurse and mother of three who was found dead in a ravine after being strangled by her husband. González’s uncle said his niece had expressed being afraid for her life, but thought that filing a restraining order wouldn’t protect her, the Herald reported.
Angie Noemí González Santos, a 29-year-old nurse and mother, was murdered by her husband in Puerto Rico. He then discarded her body by throwing it off a cliff.
— Andrea González-Ramírez (@andreagonram) January 19, 2021
The executive order paves the way for a mobile app to be created that will help victims request help and report aggressors to emergency services, according to the Herald. Authorities will be able to check in with women who have filed restraining orders, and the government will launch a media campaign with the goal of educating the public about gender-based violence.
The local Department of Economic Development and Commerce will also expand initiatives to support career opportunities for women in an attempt to alleviate financial vulnerabilities that can lead to gender violence.