By: Jorge López Martínez & Cristina Soto Padua
Bruises. Pain. Tears. Love. Shyness. Low self-esteem. All of them caused by the person they loved. Suffering. Blood. Death. The end of what seemed to be a lovely relationship. Many women who gave themselves away. Children left behind. Despair. And all of this is happening in a place near us.
Women violence is the physical, emotional, and/or sexual aggression to women. Domestic violence refers to this type of action when it happens in the nucleus of a family. The majority of the women that are suffering from domestic violence do not even recognize they are living this type of aggression.
Most of these women do not know how to identify if their partner is an aggressor or not. Many factors that can prove this are: the person is constantly jealous, tries to control everything she does, wants to control her social life and the way she dresses, etc. (UN Women)
Many organizations have tried to deal with this problem. Altogether, they chose violet as the main color to represent their cause. Violet, more than a color, means solidarity with women who have had bruises of the same color.
On November 22nd, students from the University of Puerto Rico – Mayagüez Campus (UPRM) wore violet t-shirts supporting an international cause. As part of the activities of the International Month for Prevention of Violence against Women, UPRM recalled the names of the several murders of Puerto Rican women who died due to domestic violence this year.
The event took place beside the Chancellor’s Gardens area by the “Fountain of Life”. Professor Luisa Seijo Maldonado, director of the Coordination Committee of the Violence Prevention Program, along with volunteers of the program mentioned before and “SIEMPRE VIVAS” group (UPRM project that offers legal and psychological advisory to women, in and outside the campus, who have suffered violence,) proclaimed “No more violence against women.” It commemorated the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (November 25th), date in which the political activists Mirabal Sisters from Dominican Republic were assassinated (UN Women).
The event started with a brief description of how violence affects women from all around the world every single day. Then, Professor Luisa Seijo gave a symbolic recognition to women who were murdered by domestic violence aggressors in Puerto Rico this year. “Through this year, more than 28 women have been murdered.” said Professor Seijo, “We are going to mention only 26, because it is the data we have available and we are going to remember the life of these women.”
Some of the women mentioned by Seijo were Linda Rivera Cruz, María Ortíz Fernández, Sandra Villafañe Silva, Hellen Pérez, etc. These women were from all around the island, and their ages varied from 14 to over 50. Most of them were brutally killed by their boyfriends, husbands, and/or ex’s.
Also, the SIEMPRE VIVAS director and moderator of the activity mentioned Sasha Hernández Alemán. “In January 22, died Sasha Hernández Alemán, 30-year-old, member of the SIEMPRE VIVAS project, the first woman that we have lost since we [SIEMPRE VIVAS] started in 1997” said Seijo. This mother of two received psychological help in one of the support groups of the SIEMPRE VIVAS team. The death of Sasha was the first to affect UPRM community in such a direct way.
It is very important to highlight that all the campuses of the University of Puerto Rico system have been scenarios of aggression against women. Remarkably, the cases in UPRM have been increasing during the past years. According to Coraly León, director of the volunteering program for violence prevention, “more than 10 cases have been reported inside the UPRM campus. These students have been victims of verbal harassment, physical abuse, and sexual aggression.” A lot of them, like Sasha Hernández, have been referred to SIEMPRE VIVAS program’s psychological counseling. “There is a protocol for students who suffer from any type of harassment, abuse, or violence. Most of us do not know. Even male students who suffer similar events are protected by this protocol” said León.
This protocol, designed by the Coordination Committee of the Violence Prevention Program, includes the UPRM Police Guard, the Medical Services Office, the Students Affair Office, and the Violence Prevention Program itself. They have held the mission of educating all the UPRM community and offer their services to students, faculty, non-faculty, and even people outside the UPRM community.
This task is of Universal matter. All, men and women, should take action in this cause. All together we can stop violence against women.