Women in Puerto Rico have launched a social media campaign pushing back against comments by a high-ranking police officer who suggested women should not be walking alone, especially at night. The officer’s remarks came after Ivania Zayas, a 38-year-old singer songwriter, was run over and killed on Feb. 8 in a hit-and-run accident as she tried to cross a busy road in the San Juan neighborhood of Rio Piedras.
The police lieutenant, Felix Bauzó, was quoted as saying in a press conference about the investigation: “It’s not normal for a lady to be crossing [the street] at 1 a.m., and that’s why we need to investigate if she was alone. If she was alone, then it’s worrisome, and if she was with someone, we should find out where she was coming from, what she was doing … those sorts of details.” Bauzó has since apologized for his remarks.
After Bauzó’s comments were reported in Puerto Rican media, the hashtag #andandolacallesola (or “walking the street alone”) sprang up on social media in Puerto Rico and mainland cities such as New York. “[Those comments] are gender-based because the reputation or conduct of the victim are analyzed to indirectly justify the attack,” Adriana Alonso Calderon, education coordinator of the local NGO Paz Para La Mujer, told the Noticel newspaper. “If the victim had been male, [the officer] would not have questioned why he was walking alone in the street.”
Nearly 2,000 people have signed up to participate in a walk on Sunday to remember Zayas, according to an event organized on Facebook. The walk will take place at the same time and location where she was killed.