Women Are Disappearing in Puerto Rico. Activists Are Calling for a State of Emergency.


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By Mivette Vega

September 25, 2020

The recent kidnapping of a 20-year-old woman on the island adds to the list of 21 missing women since the beginning of the year.

The number of cases of women who have disappeared in Puerto Rico has raised concerns among feminist activists who are demanding Gov. Wanda Vázquez declare a state of emergency. 

The most recent case in a string of disappearances is that of 20-year-old Rosimar Rodríguez, who was kidnapped in front of a residence in the municipality of Toa Baja last week on Thursday.

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In addition to the missing person cases, 23 women have been murdered from January to May of this year.

FeminicidioPR, a group of activists, is demanding justice for women by using the hashtags #Niunamás (not one more) and #Niunamenos (not one less). They have posted on Twitter a list of 21 missing women who range from 18 to 20 years of age.

On Wednesday, Vázquez ordered the police and the Office of the Ombudsman for Women (OPM by its Spanish initials) to investigate the disappearances. 

Lersy Boria, local ombudsman for women, called for an emergency meeting on the same day, and criticized the local government’s response to the ongoing situation.

“The lack of communication and necessary information to work on these cases is unacceptable, as is the response from safety, health, and welfare agencies,” Boria said in a written statement.

Police Commissioner Henry Escalera has stated that the number of missing women is less than 21.

“It’s worth clarifying that 12 of these women were located and are safe, and five have not been located,” Escalera said in a written statement. “We have received information that one [woman] is in the United States but her location has not been identified. Of the remaining three cases, there is no evidence of complaints at any police precinct.”

Colectivo Feminista is one of the most active groups in response to disappearances and domestic violence in the island. The collective has called for a massive protest on Sept. 28 in front of La Fortaleza, the governor’s mansion, to demand that a state of emergency be in place as well as more effective public policies.

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“This is a critical problem—an emergency that requires the entire government and its public agencies to prioritize this issue in order to eradicate it,” Shariana Ferrer, spokesperson of the collective, told El Nuevo Día. “What we’re seeing is a lack of interest [from the government].” 

Police spokesperson Axel Valencia told Noticel that officials confirmed and are investigating the case of a woman who arrived barefoot and screaming at the Torrimar Tren Urbano rapid transit station claiming a man had chased her.

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