Official Reports of Violence Against Women in Puerto Rico Unreliable After Hurricane Maria

More than seven months after Hurricane Maria, organizations serving domestic violence and sexual assault victims in Puerto Rico report an increase in violence against women since the storm. Yet a breakdown in island infrastructure and unreliable statistics from official sources makes it difficult to quantify the problem and respond to the emergency needs of victims in the US territory. Sexual violence and intimate partner violence tends to rise in the aftermath of natural disasters due to the high levels of stress, the scarcity of basic necessities, and the breakdown of social networks, according to the World Health Organization. Puerto Rico has one of the highest rates of violence against women in the world, which has increased over the last few years. Leaders of organizations serving victims on the island say the two hurricanes last fall likely exacerbated the rate of violence against women in Puerto Rico.