Newly sworn-in Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro PierluisiPedro Rafael PierluisiPuerto Rico limiting alcohol sales, gatherings as coronavirus cases rise Puerto Rico orders businesses to require proof of vaccination Puerto Rico to receive nearly billion in pandemic relief funds MORE declared a state of emergency in Puerto Rico in response to killings targeting women and transgender people in recent years.
Pierluisi signed an executive order declaring the emergency for gender-based violence on Sunday. It is set to last until June 30, 2022.
Activists for years have pushed for government action to address the killings and violence, which they say have gotten worse after Hurricane Maria in 2017 and the coronavirus pandemic struck the island, CNN reported.
Puerto Rican police report that at least 5,517 women were victims of domestic violence in 2020, and the Gender Equality Observatory documented at least 60 direct and indirect femicides, six transfemicides and 26 cases still under investigation or lacking information.
"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 in a statement translated by CNN. "For too long vulnerable victims have suffered the consequences of systematic machismo, inequity, discrimination, lack of education, lack of guidance and above all lack of action."
The governor’s order establishes various programs to address the violence, including establishing a committee focused on education, support and rescue.
The 17-member committee, which will include three representatives from organizations that concentrate on gender-based violence, will provide an initial progress report 45 days after starting and then every 30 days until the end of the declaration.
Pierluisi also requested a mobile app be created to allow victims to report violence without calling attention to themselves.
Advocacy organizations celebrated the governor’s order as progress.
"Today our rage carries some hope," the organization Colectiva Feminista en Construcción posted on Facebook. "Today, as always, our hope is radical. We will not take a step back."