SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – In order to address the incidence of violent crimes against women, W. Stephen Muldrow, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, announced the creation of a working group comprised of state and federal agencies, non-profit organizations and higher learning institutions, to assess the threat and propose immediate and long-term measures to protect women against violence. The initiative will be led by the Public Affairs and Community Engagement Division, and encompasses a multi-pronged approach to prevent and prosecute gender based crimes in Puerto Rico. To be clear, we will prosecute those who commit such crimes to the fullest extent of the law.
Throughout the years, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has demonstrated its commitment to fight gender based violence, human trafficking, child exploitation, and other hate crimes based on an individual’s race, sex, gender orientation, nationality, and religion. Recent events in the District of Puerto Rico have raised concern in the community with regards to the safety of women and other vulnerable groups. We recognize that finding solutions to these issues requires a collaborative effort. In the coming weeks, we will reach out to all stakeholders to develop a multi-sector strategy to prevent and prosecute cases involving violence against women. An initiative to prosecute domestic violence gun crimes will be a component of these efforts.
Partnership for Domestic Violence Gun Prosecutions. This initiative is designed to combat domestic violence with the intent to prevent harm and loss of life before they occur. Under this initiative, and by working with federal, state and local law enforcement and nonprofit entities, the U.S. Attorney’s Office is making the investigation and prosecution of federal domestic violence crimes a priority. This initiative will also involve a campaign to put domestic abusers on notice of their prohibition to possessing firearms and train law enforcement on how to investigate federal domestic violence crimes. Local judges will be educated as to the impact of their orders on potential federal criminal prosecutions. Most importantly, we will bring awareness to the public, and to non-profit organizations that shelter and protect victims, on how to report domestic violence crimes to and work with federal authorities. In sum, this joint initiative will reduce domestic violence, save lives and assist victims.
Funding. In addition to the initiative for federal prosecution of domestic violence gun cases, the U.S. Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) will direct over $3.9 million in grant funding to Puerto Rico to bolster efforts to curb domestic violence and sexual abuse. The grants include:
- Universidad del Sagrado Corazón: $299,962- Grants to Reduce Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault, and Stalking on Campus Program.
- Taller Salud, Incorporated (Loiza): $225,000- Grants to Enhance Culturally Specific Services for Victims of Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence and Stalking Program.
- Hogar Nueva Mujer Santa Maria de la Merced, Incorporated: $750,000- Rural Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence and Stalking Program.
- Office of the Women’s Advocate: $1,745,557- STOP Violence Against Women Formula Grant Program.
- Hogar Ruth Para Mujeres Maltratadas, Incorporated: $288,300- SASP Culturally Specific Solicitation (victims of sexual assault).
- Coordinadora Paz para la Mujer, PR Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse: $243,619- State and Territorial Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Coalitions Program
- Office of the Women’s Advocate: $418,575- Sexual Assault Services Formula Grant Program
“These grants will help victims escape abuse, seek justice, and rebuild their lives. For domestic violence victims, the added stressors of the pandemic can make a dangerous situation even worse,” said OVW Principal Deputy Director Laura Rogers. “Our grants in Puerto Rico are a timely contribution to approaches already underway to keep victims safe and hold offenders accountable for their crimes.” OVW’s current and forthcoming investments foster coordinated responses to violence against women, making resources available to local and tribal communities for investigation and prosecution, transitional housing, and culturally specific victim services, and training for professionals who respond to these crimes.
“Today, we are pledging to do even more to combat domestic violence. These grants will go a long way in making our homes, families and communities safer,” said U.S. Attorney Muldrow. “If we bring together law enforcement, victim advocates, our courts, attorneys, and the general public, we can effectively fight domestic violence, empower victims, and get them the help they so desperately need. We reiterate our commitment to collaborate with our state counterparts in the eradication of violence against women. Through prevention, prosecution, outreach and empowerment of victims we will end the cycle of violence against women. Our primary goal is simple: we will keep victims safe and hold offenders accountable.”
The Office of Justice Programs provides federal leadership in developing the nation’s capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice and assist victims. OJP has six bureaus and offices: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; the Office for Victims of Crime; and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking. More information about OJP and its components can be found at: www.ojp.gov.
The Office on Violence Against Women provides federal leadership in developing the national capacity to reduce violence against women and administer justice for and strengthen services to victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
Anyone affected by abuse and wishes to seek support should please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or text LOVEIS to 22522.
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