María Suárez Toro,
October 13, 2017
- Casa Julia and three other women’s shelters are closed for lack of electricity and generators, including Casa Luisa Capetillo and Hogar Nueva Mujer (New Woman’s Home).
- Hogar Ruth (Ruth’s Home) opened with 35 women, but has only 21 beds to accommodate current and new post-Maria victims.
- In Aibonito in the center of the big island, at least eight cases of domestic violence have been reported and addressed directly during the post-Maria emergency, and others have been recorded by legal and social assistance.
The lack of communication channels, transportation and electricity are factors that make invisible a reality that is already known to increase in crisis situations, which is an increase in violence against women. As one example, this was a strong trend in New Orleans in the United States following Hurricane Katrina in 2008.
In response to the increase in violence against women and complaints about the state of shelters, four dozen Puerto Rican activists organized by the Peace Coordinator for Women (Coordinadora Paz para la Mujer) met on October 8th at the Sacred Heart School (Colegio del Sagrado Corazón) in Santrurce, a suburb of the capital San Juan.
It was a real odyssey. Normally such a meeting would not be an unusual event, but in the midst of the escalating emergency the group put out a call to meet in order to analyze and plan immediate emergency actions.
The women activists met despite challenges of long lines at gas stations, and lack of water and power; despite the day-to-day destruction of homes and premises; despite the extra burden of women in crises with caring for the elderly, children and almost everything that has to do with daily life in homes without services; and despite the lack of communication via telephone and media.
They met in the capital city because the infrastructure of San Juan enabled some provision of basic services and so served as a base to implement emergency strategies for the rest of the large island in the Boricua Archipelago.
One of the first concerns addressed at the meeting was an immediate contingency plan focused on the shelters of women victims of violence to provide them with water, gasoline and power generators.
Nirvana González of the Coordinator explained to the media that the meeting was very important because the situation is critical. New cases of domestic violence are being reported every day, not only in Aibonito, but in many other places and it was urgent to improve conditions at the shelters to be able to provide necessary services for the women.
One outcome of the meeting was the organization of a collection center by the Peace Coordinator for Women at the Miramar Bar Association on Saturday, October 14 for such purposes.
People can support these efforts by calling Vilma González, General Coordinator, at 787 2358208
Translated by Margie Thompson, ESCRIBANA