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Puerto Rico gov signs order establishing plan to prevent violence against women

By on March 8, 2019

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SAN JUAN – Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló Nevares signed an executive order March 8, International Women’s Day, to establish an “Integrated Action Plan” between several government agencies and instrumentalities aimed at preventing violence against women.

The plan involves efforts between the Public Safety Department, the Women’s Advocate Office, the Family and Corrections departments, and the Women’s Council.

“We reiterate this administration’s public policy to repudiate the various manifestations of violence against women,” Rosselló said in a statement. “As established in our government program, monitoring and complying with public policies contribute to the development of a fair and equitable society, so that [women] have better and real opportunities for progress.”

Pursuant to the order, the Public Safety secretary is ordered to create and establish a protocol within its Police Bureau so that protective orders are forwarded to police areas where victims live and that a preventive patrol system be established covering the homes and workplace of victims who have issued protective orders.

The Public Safety Department is also tasked with creating and establishing a specialized division for the intervention of gender violence cases, ascribed to the Puerto Rico Police Bureau. The division will look into the investigation and processing of sexual abuse crimes, domestic violence cases and women who have been kidnapped.

In addition, it will collect, analyze and publish statistics related to these crimes each calendar year, and provide continuing education and support to other programs within the bureau.

In addition, the Women’s Advocate and the Health Department will establish a partnership with the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) Graduate School of Public Health and non-governmental organizations to offer help to victims of gender violence and prepare a joint awareness campaign on its causes and consequences.

The order also urges the Women’s Advocate to design and distribute material that illustrates the process of handling protection order requests. It must be made available to the entities that help victims and include the obligations related to the protection, intervention, arrests, referrals and reports, as well as to survivors, so they can evaluate the process and claim their rights.

According to the executive order, the Mental Health & Antiaddiction Services Administration (Assmca by its Spanish acronym) must also establish a pilot program for aggressors with alcohol or controlled substance addiction problems.

Meanwhile, it also entrusts the Family Department secretary to establish a program– through collaborative agreement with NGOs that provide emergency, support and counseling services to victims–and provide educational training to law enforcement officers about issues related to the handling of stressors, healthy relations, effective communication, fairness and respect, and prevention of abuse in relationships.

The order also tasks the Corrections and Rehabilitation Department with extending its warning services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault “seven days a week” to expand the protection offered to victims and witnesses.

Obligatory compliance

Furthermore, it orders the Justice Department secretary to design and establish a system for gathering statistics from all relevant agencies and government branches to create a sexual assault and domestic violence registry that will be included in the Integral Criminal Registry.

In addition, the Women’s Council is expected to coordinate a series of discussions with women from different sectors of society to receive recommendations for the prevention of violence.

Another initiative within the executive order is that the Women’s Advocate and Labor Department establish collaborative agreements with agencies and government entities to strengthen oversight and implement protocols to address domestic violence.

The World Health Organization (WHO) concluded that violence against women, especially by their partner, and sexual violence constitute a major public health problem and a violation of human rights.

Data published by the entity shows that approximately one in three women worldwide have suffered physical or sexual violence by their partner or have suffered from sexual violence by others at some point in their lives.

Government agencies and instrumentalities tasked under the executive order must now submit a report every 60 days to Chief of Staff Ricardo Llerandi and provide an update on their compliance.

Firmando Orden Ejecutiva para crear plan de acción para la prevención de la violencia contra la mujer.

Posted by Ricardo Rossello on Friday, March 8, 2019

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