Dr. Linda Laras | 2022 National Crime Victims' Service Awards
Dr. Linda Laras, a physician, has dedicated her life to providing comprehensive services to victims of sexual assault and defending their rights. A highly respected forensic gynecologist in Puerto Rico, Dr. Laras’ professionalism has advanced the medical field’s awareness and commitment to providing victims of sexual assault the care they need and deserve. She has been breaking barriers and advocating the importance of recognizing violence as a public health problem since 1990.
Dr. Laras received the Allied Professional Award. Visit the OVC Gallery for more information about her work to support victims of crime.
LINDA LARAS: If we don't help the victim, who is a witness of a crime, then we can't hold people accountable. As a physician, I deem it my responsibility to be able to explain what is it that the victim says and what the victim doesn't say, bringing the responsibility of health professionals to the forefront to identify and listen to victims of sexual violence. We can speak for the victim in a different way than a policeman or a district attorney. What I do for other health conditions, I can apply to sexual violence, so that we can have more ways of giving credibility to the testimony of the victim.
The Puerto Rico Health Justice Center is a safe place for victims of sexual violence, all types of manifestations, no matter the age, no matter the sex, no matter what. The research that we do at the Puerto Rico Health Justice Center responds to needs. I don't do research just for research. I do it because there's something that we need to find out.
If you don't have a multidisciplinary intervention that works together, you can end up doing more harm than good. We have all the forensic components, including the doctor, the psychologist, the social worker, and we even have a courtroom. Victim rights, we take them very seriously.
MAITE ORONOZ RODRIGUEZ: Dr. Linda Laras started to collaborate with the judiciary and gave recommendations regarding how to best serve communities, and that we should see the cases regarding sexual violence in one specialized court.
LINDA LARAS: Physicians that work with violence have to come out of the box. So, we came up with the idea of doing mobile units, so that when there is a situation, the emergency room is heavy, we can move the whole team and go where the victim is. We are with you, and we fight for you.
I'm really proud of them. Their struggle, their hope, I admire them. We're here for the victim.
Opinions or points of view expressed in these recordings represent those of the speakers and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice. Any commercial products and manufacturers discussed in these recordings are presented for informational purposes only and do not constitute product approval or endorsement by the U.S. Department of Justice.