The women of Puerto Rico have been the center of movements that created lasting change on the island so it is no surprise that they have stepped up to help others in need. After Hurricane Maria, a series of profane chats from Rosselló and his cohorts showed chats including, sexist, and homophobic attacks, which three days later the women-led Center For Investigative Reporting published the text messages that kicked of a wave of protests against the #RickyRenuncia.
There are hundreds of thousands of women across the island that come from all ages and backgrounds that are participating in the revolution. While some are in the front lines of confronting riot police, others are behind the scenes helping their communities by tending to farms, leading community workshops, healing, and education.
This is an incredible thing that women in Puerto Rico has done for the people like building homes, taking care of those in need, making sure their families were fed but one thing some people may forget is how women are marginalized not only do they not get treated unequally but after hurricane maria violence against women was an all-time high. According to RI interviews with organizations providing services to GBV survivors, and as was documented in several news reports, violence against women in Puerto Rico increased after Hurricane María.
This is hardly surprising given that GBV almost invariably increases with any natural disaster. In Puerto Rico, however, documenting the full nature and scope of the increase in GBV incidents in the hurricane’s aftermath has proven challenging for two main reasons. First, the three hotlines used to report incidents went dead with the collapse of the island’s telecommunications system. Even weeks after the hurricane, the 911 call center, the Office of the Women’s Ombudsperson’s emergency line, and the line to the Center for Assistance to Rape Victims were not fully restored. Second, key systems designed to prevent and respond to GBV collapsed. After the hurricane, only five of the island’s eight domestic violence shelters were functional. According to shelter staff, at no point did any authorities visit the shelters to undertake a needs assessment or request input from shelter directors on the emergency response. So while the women were making sure that everyone else was taken care of it seemed as if they forgot that women in Puerto Rico need to be taken care of as well.
By Alexus Rios