Puerto Rican Police Pepper Spray Puerto Ricans Protesting Violence Against Women

On Friday,  Colectiva Feminista en Construcción, in collaboration with other Puerto Rican Feminist groups, organized a sit-in (un plantón) in front of La Fortaleza, Governor Ricardo Rosselló’s residence, to protest the killing of a woman by her husband, a police officer. During the protests, the Puerto Rican police peppered sprayed the protestors and videos surfaced of the police pushing against the crowd at the gates of La Fortaleza.

Friday began with a march in Plaza Colón and continued until the protestors reached the governor’s residence. The protest organizers created itineraries for participants, facilitating events such as a conversation about the causes and prevention of violence against women, artistic activities, concerts and drag shows. The protestors refuse to leave until the governor meets with them to discuss their demands.

An Executive Order created by the feminist organizations demands that Governor Rossello creates a National Emergency Plan against Gender Violence; more than 600 people have signed a petition for its creation. The demands also include the establishment of a specific protocol for when crimes against women occur; the implementation of an inter-agency committee to assist assault survivors; and a call to process the 2,554 untested rape kits.

In 2018 alone, 40 Puerto Rican women have been murdered, at least 22 were killed by their husbands, and police officers were the abusers in 180 reported domestic violence cases. According to United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) “Femicide Report 2018,” close to 87,000 women were killed worldwide this year; 58% of these women were murdered by an intimate partner or a family member, which is about 6 women every hour.

Sunday marked the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and people around the globe marched to bring attention to and protest gender-based violence. The marches were the beginning of the 16-day activism campaign titled “Orange the World: #HearMeToo” that will last until Human Rights Day on December 10th. The campaign calls on people around the world to speak up and take a stand against violence against women. It offers ways to get involved such as listening to survivors, buying products from women entrepenuers and using your platform to advocate for others. The UN-Women campaign draws from movements such as #MeToo, #TimesUp, and #NiUnaMenos. Countries such as Afghanistan have previously participated in the yearly UN campaign to end violence against women, and this year Afghans are organizing street theaters to allow survivors of gender-based violence to share their stories.


Media Resources: El Volcero 11/25/18; Latino Rebels 11/25/18; Bustle 11/26/18; New York Times 11/25/18;  UN Women 11/21/18; Feminist Newswire 11/25/15; Twitter 11/25/18, 11/26/18; Facebook posts by Colectiva Feminista en Construcción 11/23/18, 11/24/18 (multiple)





Record Numbers of Afghan Women Vote and Run for Office in Afghan Elections Amid Violence

Despite Taliban threats of violence on Election Day, record numbers of Afghan women and men turned out to vote in the Afghan parliamentary elections on October 20th   and 21st.

In total, some 45% of Afghan registered voters cast a ballot including at least 33% of Afghan women voters. In some areas almost 50% of the voters were women, such as the Jauzjan province, where women were 53% of the voters according to the Independent Election Commission (IEC) of Afghanistan. At many of the 4649 polling sites, voters experienced long lines.

Preliminary election results will not be release until November 6th and the IEC has until December 20 to release final results.  All voting was by paper balloting to prevent or reduce corruption and technical problems.  There are 400 employees of the IEC including 130 women overseeing the counting of the ballots.  German-made biometric machines, however, were used to prevent ballot box-stuffing.  Working like a smart phone, the biometric machine matched a voter’s photo and fingerprints to their voter cards.  The biometric devices were delivered late and caused delays in voting at many polling sites.  But the hope is this high tech machinery plus a paper trail will reduce or even end disputes about the election results.

Threats turned into real violence with at least 78 Afghans killed on Election Day in some of the 250 attacks carried out by the Taliban and ISIS. At least 10 candidates were killed nationwide by the Taliban armed groups during or before the election period.

Despite the violence and threats of violence Afghans voted in all but two of its 34 provinces and in all but 11 of the districts within the provinces. Elections were only cancelled in Ghazni province and in Kandahar voting was postponed for one week because of violence.  But in some other provinces, like Herat, Election Day was peaceful.

A record number of candidates, more than 2500, including 217 women, ran for the 249 seats in the lower House. Many of these candidates were young and educated, in addition to the high number of women candidates that ran for the Afghan parliament.  The expectation is that the newly elected parliament will be younger, more educated and comprised of more women than ever before.

To put the Afghan voting numbers in perspective only about 40% of registered voters on average cast a ballot in U.S. midterm elections and only about 14% of U.S. registered voters voted in the 2014 midterm primaries.  In 2018, with the highest level of voting in more than two decades, only about 20% of Americans voted in the midterm primaries.

Please read the accompanying blog by a courageous young Afghan woman, who is a member of Free Women Writers, on why voting for the first time was so important for her.


Media Resources: Associated Press (Kathy Gannon) October 19, 2018: PBS News Hour; TOLO News October 21, 2018; Pew Research Center (US Statistics); FairVote (US Statistics); NY Times October 20, 2018; TOLO News October 23, 2018


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