Women in Puerto Rico are taking a bold stand against the vandalism of a mural intended to call attention to the issue of violence against women. Vandals struck the mural on Sunday, using white paint to add bras and underpants to the naked female figures depicted in the scene along Avenida Fernandez Juncos in San Juan. On Wednesday, dozens of women gathered in front of the mural and bared their own breasts to protest that act of censorship, according to a Telemundo station in Puerto Rico.
"The bodies of women are used to sell products, to sell cars, to sell clothes, to sell all sorts of things, but at the same time, truthfully, we are not considered the owners of our own bodies," Marelis Pagán, of the Matria (or Motherland) project, told the station in Spanish. "The fact that they have been vandalized in such a hypocritical and prudish way, covering up the breasts and the pelvis, moved us to protest as an act to take back the right to our own bodies." The Paz Para La Mujer (Peace for Women) organization helped create the mural about a year ago. On Wednesday, members of the group wrote in a Facebook post that while street artists can always expect vandalism, the act "hurts more than expected." But they said that whoever covered up the naked bodies actually helped activists in their effort to expose the issue of violence against women. "The people who vandalized us have done us a favor with the media, carrying our message and awakening activism," the group wrote in Spanish on its page, where it posted several photos of the mural's creation. Puerto Rico isn't the only place where women are using street art to fight back against domestic violence. In Brazil, where an estimated 15 women are killed per day simply because of their gender, groups such as Rede Nami are using graffiti to generate awareness and discussion of the issue.