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State of emergency declared in Puerto Rico after killings targeting women, transgender people

Newly sworn-in Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Pierluisi 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 Observatorydocumented 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.

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