Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Not to be kissed by force, not to be cuddled up to from behind and not to be grabbed around the waist without prior consent: Brazilian women have mobilized more than ever this year around the “No means no” movement to put an end to the frequent instances of sexual harassment inflicted on them during Carnival.
The situation is repeated countless times per day in many of the dance troupes that fill the streets in Brazilian cities and towns: A man begins to make advances to a woman, the woman tells him to stop, that she’s not interested, but the man keeps insisting.
In just three hours, a woman can be accosted up to five times, according to what some of them have said.
But something is changing in Brazil, although for the past two years, the number of sexual harassment complaints during Carnival has been growing in a country where 52 percent of women who have experienced such behavior from men have decided to keep silent, according to a survey by the Brazilian Public Safety Forum.
In 2018, stickers and tattoos have begun being seen calling for respect for women’s bodies and an end to macho behavior that is still seen as natural among a large portion of the public.
“When we say ‘no means no,’ we’re speaking up so that women can empower their bodies, we’re saying they aren’t obligated to endure that and that they have a support network,” Julia Parucker told EFE.
Even the police seem to pay the issue little heed. At one Carnival celebration in the state of Pernambuco, one girl said that when she went to the police to complain about a sexual attack the officer said: “Girl, this is Carnival. What do you want me to do…?”
Given that situation, Parucker and a group of female friends have launched an initiative –with donations from the public– to print 25,000 stickers for women to stick on their skin saying “Nao e Nao” (no means no).
“Our bodies are going to be our battleground, where we cry that there’s no reason for it to be like this,” she said.
The initial target was to collect 7,500 reais (about $2,330) but the campaign resonated so strongly among women that they received 20,457 reais ($6,365), which has allowed them to get their message out in the cities of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Salvador, Belo Horizonte, Recife, Olinda and Brasilia.
Even if this is a “daily battle”, Parucker believes, it is important to step up the struggle against harassment whenever “it is necessary, like during the carnival”.
Eloisa Honorato, 31, a member of a dance troupe called “Maravillosas Cuerpo de Baile” (Wonderful Corps of Dancers), enjoys the atmosphere of the popular Sao Paulo-based parade Pilantragi together with more than twenty of her colleagues.
Most of them are carry a female symbol on their head and a top with a patterned music player showing a comb shaped like a Fallopian tube. Eloisa, however, displays a full-body painting, her breasts covered with two red hearts surrounded by a golden bra-like drawing.
“We’re here to fight against patriarchy and against an oppressive society that believes itself to be the owner of our bodies”, Eloisa complains. “We’re all fed up, we can’t take it anymore, and when we all get together we feel stronger and protected by the energy we create”, she adds.
Near them is Luiza Gonçalves, 21, who says “as women we are now more empowered and aware” that we don’t have to put up with “any intolerable situation”.
At least 42 percent of Brazilian women say they have suffered sexual harassment, according to a survey conducted by Datafolha and released last December. A third of them admitted to being sexually accosted as they were walking down the street.
To Parucker, Carnival is particularly delicate because men take advantage of the fact that everybody is happy and joking to “poke around”, to put it mildly, convinced that they can get away with it and nothing will happen.
In her opinion, there’s still a long way to go before society and authorities stop downplaying the cases of harassment “so typical” during Carnival.
The tattoos, stickers and other signs saying “No means no” are the start of a situation in Brazil where women who suffer sexual harassment can “have the courage to complain” because “when we say no means no it’s not a yes or a perhaps. No means no and (men) have to respect that,” said Parucker.
(With information from EFE)
Posted: Saturday 20 January 2018 | 11:07:00 PM
Author: Juventud Rebelde email@example.com
A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann.
WASHINGTON, January 20 – Although there were still no official figures, press offices estimated in hundreds of thousands the number of women who took to the streets this Saturday in more than 200 cities in the United States to express their rejection of the policies of Donald Trump on the first anniversary of his arrival to the presidency. Only in Los Angeles there was there talk of 400,000 protesters.
As reported by AFP, the second Women’s March came back to the streets with the pink caps and was also held in cities like New York, where a colorful crowd invaded an avenue that surrounds the western sector of Central Park to the Trump International Hotel, one of the facilities of the President’s real estate empire, starting early in the morning.
«Where to start? There are too many things that are wrong and I can not choose,” said LeighAnn Ferrara, a 35-year-old mother questioned about what had led her to come from the north of that state with two neighbors to demonstrate.
The peaceful protest activities will last until this Sunday when they will remember the day after Trump’s inauguration. Then, PL recalls, more than three million people from all over the country joined the Women’s Marty to express their opposition to the Republican leader.
In San Francisco, Portland, Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles, Denver and Philadelphia women also raised their voices in solidarity with victims of sexual harassment and the #MeToo (Yo también) movement, which emerged a decade ago in support of black women victims of sexual violence, but green with other characteristics in recent months.
The accusations, said PL, have reached Trump himself. Since his time as a presidential candidate he has been accused by more than a dozen women of sexual misconduct.
The demonstrations coincided with the closure of offices and dependencies of the Government after Republicans and Democrats in Congress maintained inability to reach a consensus on the federal budget.
The feared closure came into effect shortly after midnight this Saturday, when the Senate vetoed a budget measure approved by the House of Representatives.
So far, neither of the two main political parties seems to give ground in their demands, although both sides face risks for a prolonged closure, said the website The Hill, specializing in issues of the Capitol.
The White House maintains that it will not negotiate on the issue that caused the stalemate: how to replace the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and the 800,000 undocumented youth brought by their parents to the United States during the childhood.
The leader of the Democratic minority in the upper house, Charles Schumer, convened a meeting at the White House this Saturday with the main leaders of Congress and President Donald Trump, in order to discuss a broad agreement on immigration, spending limits and disaster prevention.
For its part, the leader of the Republican majority, Mitch McConnell, tried to maintain an agreement close to the bill approved in the House – rejected by the majority of Democratic senators – whose goal is achieving at least one financing agreement provisional for three weeks.
Polls show that the majority of voters support a solution that allows immigrant youth to remain in the United States, although most also believe that this should not be a reason to force the closure of the government, PL reported.
By María Elena Balán Sainz
January 15, 2018
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
It is true that today, the image of the person seeking a job competes in the employment market, and I am not talking about Europe or other countries of the so-called first world, also in Cuba when we read an advertisement for employees they put as requirements that they be young, tall, good-looking and white, because there such a discrimination is exposed clearly.
Among the requirements sought are age and it is spelled out that they prefer youth to experience; marital status, because being single and without family responsibilities or children in your care represent points in your favor; be a beautiful and attractive young woman and send a photo in a resume that may not say much professional about her qualifications, but a profile in which beauty stands out.
In advertisements, published mainly on job websites, you can see the age range that employers ask for: 80 percent of them are up to 35 years of age.
They are not interested in those who are called geeks, that is, enthusiastic to the point of obsession with knowledge, knowers and lovers of technology issues, or those who do not have that name but are cultured, educated, are characterized by their seriousness to work and are recognized for their performance and productivity.
The search for girls with a pronounced bust, a narrow waist, a beautiful face, slenderness and marked flirtatiousness that make the client’s neck turn is setting a trend. It leaves those who do not have those attributes at a disadvantage, but above all, encourages discrimination and strengthens the stereotype of women as an advertising and sexist object.
By Iviani Padín Geroy
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
All Cuban women of childbearing age are entitled to one package of sanitary pads per month 1.20 pesos in national currency. It may be that our country is the only one in the world that gives women the possibility of obtaining this product in pharmacies in a regulated manner, and for this the State spends considerable sums of money.
However, to say that the “intimate”, as it is popularly known, is a consumable subsidized by the State, that only partially solves a basic hygienic need which believes in neither productive delays nor obsolete machinery.
That is why JR returns to one of the issues that the national press has insistently addressed in recent years, and in which again and again the same complaints are repeated by the population involved.
Ten are not enough
“Now they are giving me the pads from September, according to the pharmacists, because they have reached the eighth cycle and these will be the last ones to be given this year,” says Odalis González, 25 years old.
Odalis, like many other Cuban women, has seen the need to buy sanitary pads on the black market, or “under the table”, as Marta Valdés, 34, says, claiming that the resellers always have the item and decide its price according to demand. “Ten pesos in normal times, and in times of shortage at 15 to 20 pesos in national currency,” she says.
Even with this alteration, the Mariposa pads continue to be the first option for those who cannot afford them in hard currency stores, where their price starts at 1.00 CUC.
“At home it’s me and my two daughters, and the three of us have a lot of menstrual flow, so we need three to four packages per month in addition to those assigned to us. We buy them near the pharmacy from a man who always sells them for ten pesos, because my salary is not enough to pay for them in hard currency,” says Yuniet Medina, from Centro Habana.
Danay Zaldívar, from Cerro, also prefers to buy them in this “cheaper” way, and she always have some in stock, she points out, because whoever sells them to her has them “even if the factory stops [producing them for] three months”.
The Mariposa pads are surcharged not only in the streets, but also in pharmacies, says Dayana Montejo, 22 years. “When you go many times they tell you that they don’t have them, that the factory has stopped, that there is no way to transport them, but if you ask them to ‘solve your problem’, a package appears at once, of course, at 10 or 15 pesos.”
María Luisa Ortega, from the same municipality, does not [always] get the ten pads that the package should contain, let alone that it is too small a number. “Sometimes they contain eight or nine pads, I have also found some with 11; but I do not think that this is a big problem, because in neither case are they enough, not even for women who, like me, have a regular three-day-long flow,” she remarks.
The said picture is also complicated from the popular viewpoint. Beyond nuances and stories, the black market should not be the solution to acquire this highly sought-after product.
What does science say?
The perspective of the specialists regarding menarche [fertility cycle?] and the frequency with which the pads have to be changed, justifies Cuban women’s concern when they reach a stage that by itself is complicated enough.
So says Dr. Arelis León Rodríguez, a specialist with the Amércia Arias Teaching Gyneco-Obstetric Hospital who recommends a change every four hours, that is, six pads per day during an ordinary period.
«When blood comes into contact with oxygen it begins to give off a bad smell. Also, if you use a pad for longer than you should, you would be at risk of catching germs and bacteria, since blood is also an excellent culture medium,” she explains.
Menarche can start from ten years of age and it tends to disappear before 55. That is why this is the stage in which the regulated pads are distributed; however, it is a biological process that manifests itself in different ways in each person, so the flows are not equally regular or abundant.
Then, doing some calculations reveals that 18 units are needed for a three-day-long period, and 42 for a week-long one. Definitely, the fertile stage becomes a real tragedy for women, who are forced to break the sanitary rules suggested by the specialists to make our stock of pads last a few more days.
And the quality?
«Terrible. I have to buy them in hard currency stores for my 15-year-old daughter because the ones they sell in the pharmacy make her skin sore and absorb very little, so she often gets stained. It is a sacrifice to buy them at 1.00 CUC or more because my salary is 350 pesos in national currency, and that is to cover all household expenses,” says Maribel Fuentes, from Old Havana.
The lack or excess of glue in the body of the pad is another recurring complaint. “When they have it, the glue is not where it should be, and that makes the pad very uncomfortable to wear because it runs constantly and that can be an embarrassment in front of other people,” warns Yenisey Yera, from Bauta.
Since 2007, extra-thin PADS cushions with and without wings [see translator’s note at bottom] have been marketed, but the change has not been welcomed by all women. Amarilis Verdecia, from San Miguel del Padrón, feel that, although sometimes it has been explained that these pads have greater absorption than the previous ones, it is not like that, and that to be safe, she must use more than one at the same time.
Yadira Ariosa, from Cerro, agrees with the poor quality of the product in general, but believes that the extra-thin pads are more comfortable than the thicker ones.
Butterfly according to Mathisa
On December 15, 2017 Emma Hernández Ibarra, general director of Mathisa, the National Hygienic-Sanitary Materials Company –and the only producer of sanitary pads in the country– replied through Granma newspaper to a complaint issued by Yudania Roche Sánchez, who decried their poor quality.
In the publication, director Hernández Ibarra explains that Mathisa relies in technology from the year 2004 that allows producing pads with and without wings, the latter mainly destined to hard currency stores.
She also said that the decision to produce “wingless pads for pharmacies responds to technological difficulties in the production lines”.
In search of more answers, JR spoke with Emma Hernández Ibarra and other Mathisa executives. As explained in the aforementioned publication, the super fine Mariposa pad is intended to offer greater comfort, since it is thinner and has a more compact super absorbent core in charge of gelatinizing the menstrual fluid.
She also clarifies that these pads are designed for a normal flow and a time of use of around three hours.
“Production depends on our current capacity, that is, a rate of 300 units per minute with a manual packaging system, which allows us to produce 3.6 to 3.8 million packages per month and no more” , she says.
These figures match the Cuban fertile population, so it is only possible to guarantee one package for each woman.
According to Hernández Ibarra, in 2017 the production of pads in the three factories of the country -one in the capital, which supplies the western region; one in Sancti Spíritus, in charge of the central provinces, and another in Bayamo, to supply eastern Cuba- was affected by the lack of essential raw materials.
“Eight of the ten raw materials needed to make them are imported from countries such as Spain, Italy and China, and only the packing and packaging material is found in the domestic market,” she says.
Due to the deficit of imported products, Mathisa, in turn, fail to meet its 2017 annual plan by ten percent and, although it managed to reduce the problems of distributing the entire product in stock, it will be impossible for the company to recover the production of the months in which the factories were stopped. “We do not have the capacity to produce what is necessary on a monthly basis and to make up for the delay on top of that.”
In response to this limitation, the National Hygienic-Sanitary Materials Company will begin a new “cycle” in 2018, which means that the women censored as of this month will get the pads for this year, but not those that remained pending in 2017, explained the Director General of Mathisa.
Yaimara Díaz Placeres, director of the UEB Almohadillas Mariposa Habana, explained that, in addition to the long-used machinery, the fluctuation of personnel also interferes with the quality of the process, since the quality control and package inspection activities are done manually, therefore, due to human errors, generally of personnel with little experience, defective packages are marketed.
In addition to Mariposa, Mathisa deputy director Mireyda Feris Tamayo explained, the company produces a discreet amount of the Petalos brand; the rest of the pads sold in Cuba are imported.
The concerns that women raise regarding the sanitary pads seem to accumulate, and for them there are still no definitive solutions, at least in the coming months, during which it only remains to expect that there will be no problems in the production or transportation of the Mariposa packages, and therefore, that at least we will get the 120 units that we are supposed to receive every year.
Also posted to Cubadebate:
TRANSLATOR’S NOTE: Wings are adhesive and are supposed to stick to the underwear so the pad stays put.
Author: Msc. Mareelen Díaz Tenorio* | firstname.lastname@example.org
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
It has to do with all people, human groups and institutions that share their existence in concrete socio-historical and cultural spaces. It could be thought that it is a question of women, or rather of “some women”. Some people believe that it is not a problem in Cuba, it is not so serious, or it is simply a fad that seeks to change our language by forcing people to talk about “the” and “the”. by using inclusive words such as “it” instead of using “he” when referring to both men and women.
Let’s go in parts and start with its origins. Before having sons and daughters, people usually make up images about what the process would be like. Even if you do not think carefully or plan, in our heads, ideas and sensations are activated about what the child will be like, what name it will be given, how it will be dressed, what qualities it will have, what its occupation will be, what its relationship as a couple will be like and even the children it will have in turn.
A human being is built over the years. It’s a process in which not only the mother and father participate, but the rest of the family members with their diverse beliefs. In addition, the neighborhood, the school, friends, the religious group, workspaces, membership organizations, social media and many others play a role. In all that framework, the teachings and learnings, as a tendency, are marked by differences depending on whether the newly arrived child is considered a man or a woman
It is common to frame education or socialization according to pre-conceived beliefs that we transmit from generation to generation. The process starts at an early age and is reinforced throughout life. At pre-school age we teach children’s songs that forbid a girl to play because she has to do the laundry or iron the clothes on different days of the week «Monday before lunch, a girl wanted to play, but she could not play because she had to do the laundry…».
Likewise, in the song about the playful she-ant: “… she did nothing but play and her mom told her to come and help her clean …”. She is given the care of her sick mother, who only stops doing domestic work when she has to stay in bed due to incurable health problems. Girls are often given brooms and mops, cooking toys, ironing boards, princess dresses and make-up sets. Boys are given trucks, machines, pistols, baseball bats, swords, etc. As they grow up, each learns skills, trades and different professions for male and female, as well as ways of thinking, feeling and behaving.
FROM DIFFERENCES TO VIOLENCE
Society as a whole is transmitting these beliefs and stimulating a prevailing single acceptable way of being a man or woman. Women are supposed to be beautiful, delicate, obedient, passive, conciliatory, docile, weak, sacrificed, motherly, dedicated to domestic work and the care of sick and elderly people, given more to the private world of the family. Men are supposed to be strong, independent, competitive, virile, active, dominant, powerful, providers of family income, intrepid and daring, given more to the public. This pattern includes heterosexuality for both. As people move away from these sexist patterns, they are more likely to be rejected, discriminated against and violated. The type of society in which the dominance of the masculine and the subordination of the feminine is promoted is called patriarchy.
If these were just differences, it would not be so impressive. The issue becomes more complex when a deeper analysis leads us to understand that these differences become inequalities with negative effects for both. They become straitjackets that imprison the liberties and rights of people, based on false gender beliefs, on asymmetries of power between the feminine and the masculine that determine everyday life.
So-called gender violence lies in acting (or not acting), deliberately, based on inequalities and asymmetries of power. These are anchored in what is considered valid for the feminine and masculine from a patriarchal perspective and which causes physical, psychological, sexual, and economic damage.
Victims of gender violence can be found among people of any age, school level, social class, territory, income level or skin color. None of these variables excludes people from being victims or perpetrators of violence. Of course, when there are unfavorable living conditions, situations of violence and their solutions become more complex.
It is important to say that violence intersects. A person can be violated on the basis of gender and at the same time because someone is black, follows a certain religion, has a disability, poor [material] resources and/or lives in a specific region. The possible combinations demand the attention of each dimension.
Some of the costs of assuming the prevalent or hegemonic sexist masculinity include: difficulties in expressing painful emotions and feelings; pressure to maintain control over the partner, and violent handling of conflicts; non-responsible paternity and deprivation of the enjoyment of this role; problems with self-care such as resistance to exams for prostate cancer screening, or silencing health issues such as sexual dysfunctions; having simultaneous partners, promiscuity, risky sexual practices and permanent seduction; suicide and alcoholism when the role of provider cannot be fulfilled; obligation to have children; restraint of sexual orientation and gender identity; accidents.
While there are negative costs of the male pattern for men in patriarchy, the punishment for women who deviate from the norm established by this system has been widespread in the history of humanity and still is today. Gender violence against women is the most extensive and serious of gender inequalities. Among the consequences of this form of violence for women we can mention: personality problems such as insecurity, low self-esteem, little perspective for the future; depression, anguish, fear, sleeping and eating disorders; physical and psychological injuries; effects on health due to continued domestic overload throughout life; isolation from social spaces (family, school, friendships); limitations on autonomy due to prohibitions on their insertion and promotion in working life; sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies; sequels of sexual violations; suicide and death.
The balance of damages transcends personal stories. The implications reach a high economic cost for people and for a country that needs to optimize resources to ensure sustainable development. The other side of the effects is social. As long as gender violence exists, it constitutes in itself a benchmark for the education of all generations. This means that if attention is not paid, if this is not taken care of, if this is not stopped, sexist patterns will continue being reproduced with social behaviors and fantasies that “justify” this type of violence against women as something “normal” that has always existed.
CUBAN CONTEXT AND THE COMPASS IN THE WALK
Thanks to social policies implemented decades ago, Cuba has very favorable indicators in gender equality. There are no identified forms of violence in the country that still exist in other regions of the planet. For example, ablation (amputation) of the clitoris [aka genital mutilation], sexual enslavement and torture of women as spoils of war in armed conflicts, or mass killings of women with impunity. However, there are forms of violence against women in our context, as shown by social research, health institutions, instances of the Cuban judicial system and the Houses of Counseling for Women and the Family (COMF) of the Federation of Cuban Women among others.
There is sexual, physical, economic and psychological violence. The latter, is always the most frequent because it is linked to the previous ones and can appear alone, is invisible or neglected. Some believe it does not leave traces when, in reality, it is necessary to “train” the eyes to identify it with its consequences. Some of its forms are shouting, silence as punishment and condemnation, prohibitions, impositions, disqualifications, threats, emotional blackmail, etc. Gender violence and especially that perpetrated against women constitutes a social, health and rights issue.
If situations of violence are experienced, the first recommendation is to ask for help. The problem is not private even if it occurs in the family or another social space. People can contact the COMFs that exist in each municipality, the doctor’s offices and polyclinics, Mental Health Community Centers, the National Revolutionary Police stations and the Attention Offices of the Attorney General’s Office.
Gender violence requires attention and prevention. The solutions need a look at the system, the analysis of its causes and the participation not only of different professionals, sectors and institutions, but also of state coordination and monitoring. This system is under construction so that it can yield real and sustainable results. It is essential that the whole society be involved. No one is left out. And yes, it has to do with me and with you, with men and women who want a just society without victims of gender violence.
* Psychologist at the Oscar Arnulfo Center