By Paquita Armas Fonseca, a Cuban journalist specialized in cultural issues. She is a regular contributor to Cubadebate and other digital media such as La Jiribilla, CubaSi and the Cuban Television Portal. She was director of El Caimán Barbudo.
February 4, 2021
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Degree in Psychology, PhD in Psychological Sciences, Master in Sexuality and Sexuality Pedagogy, Professor and Senior Researcher, President of the Cuban Multidisciplinary Society for the Study of Sexuality (SOCUMES). Beatriz Torres Rodriguez is the Bety who once a week has been talking about Sexuality and daily life for 20 years, first on CHTV and then on Canal Habana.
That has been one of her jobs as a communicator, she has had others (you will find them in this text) and soon she will be the host of Miradas sin excusas, a magazine that will precede the awaited series Rompiendo el silencio (Breaking the Silence). “The panels do not comment on the chapters of the serial, but make reflections and look for alternatives and turning points to prevent gender violence to give alternatives for coping with it” stresses this charismatic psychologist:
-Why Psychology? Is there a gene in the family?
When choosing a career as a teenager, generally as in my case, there is no effective professional orientation, but I have always been a passionate reader and lover of cinema and I was attracted by the characteristics of the characters, how they faced conflicts, how there could be different alternative solutions, which not only depended on the environment in which people developed, among other elements and that approached the studies, which I later learned, were the components of the psychological framework. Also, because from what I knew was a helping profession, at that time with the vision of patients with psychiatric disorders, which constituted and constitute for me a great mystery, despite the years of professional practice.
There is no specialist in my family related to this science.
Since I was a student at the Psychology Department of the University of Havana, I became interested in this subject and received extracurricular courses given by what was at that time the National Group for Sex Education. At the same time, I began my professional practice in a Mental Health Center, and I saw how mental health disorders, whether the most complex and chronic or the most acute, mostly have an impact on sexuality and life as a couple, at different ages of life, which leads to present, from discomfort related to this area, to disorders, with a great burden of suffering in most cases.
This was later enriched by working at the Center for Medical and Surgical Research, where I expanded my diapason to the accompaniment and treatment of patients with chronic diseases, especially non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and chronic kidney disease among others and the impact they have on sexuality, not only because of the disease itself, but also because of all the stigmas and prejudices of the patient himself, the couple, the team of professionals and society, mostly due to the lack of knowledge or undervaluation of these issues and the impact they have on the welfare of people regardless of the disease they have.
For ten years I have been the president of the Cuban Multidisciplinary Society for the Study of Sexuality (SOCUMES), one of its multiple lines of research is precisely gender violence.
In recent years I have also participated in counseling for women in situations of gender violence, where the implications are very marked in their sexuality, self-esteem and well-being, among others. In other words, for me it is an area of knowledge of great need and sensitivity and that, in our culture, since it is considered by the majority of the population as a private matter, people delay a lot in asking for help and in some cases do not do it at all.
-Where and when did you start as a communicator?
I started in 2000 on TV in CHTV, in its magazine, with the session Sexuality and daily life, with journalist Dianik Flores, a session that I later continued in Canal Habana, since its foundation 15 years ago, together with a group of prestigious directors and hosts such as Sandra, Magdiel and the entire production team, which has allowed me to grow as a person and as a professional and a systematic dialogue with viewers, because I keep a space within the session to answer them, based on the questions of the topics presented in the space. This exchange has been very enriching and I have been given alternatives of help or orientation to different services in the cases I require. Hearing, analyzing and learning from other colleagues whom I admire and who also have their section in the Magazine, has been very useful for me.
I have participated in other TV programs, such as El triángulo de la confianza, De tarde en casa, Entre tú y yo and Pasaje a lo desconocido, among others.
In addition, since 2005 and for several years, I developed in the newspaper Trabajadores a digital consultation on sexuality in their health page. The session was called “Let’s talk about sexuality”, which for years was a very interesting experience, receiving various questions from people of different ages, marital status, schooling, even from other countries, which allowed me to get feedback on the issues that most often concerned the population about sexuality and life as a couple and that many did not dare to raise, neither to their own partners, nor in the space of consultation, so we could see the usefulness of this space. I would like to acknowledge the collaboration of the journalist Carmen Alfonso, in charge of this health page.
I have seen the importance of communication on these issues in the media, since it allows a large group in the population to become aware, reflect and learn. At the same time, as a specialist, it has helped me to be aware of what concerns the population the most, in order to be able to offer help alternatives.
-Have you taken a speech course?
In 2008-2009, together with other specialists in charge of sessions at Canal Habana and a group of journalists, I took a speech course, which was very useful and a necessary learning experience.
-How long did you prepare for this job?
I was invited to be the host or moderator of the panels of specialists of the magazine Miradas sin excusas, before the presentation of the chapters of the serial Rompiendo el silencio. Although the preparation time was short, we had the necessary and deep table work, both with its director and screenwriter Elena Palacios, Altair Reyes, the head of production and advisor Karina Paz, magnificent professionals, with whom we developed an excellent teamwork.
In addition, for some years, I have had an approach from the research with the problems related to gender violence, I was one of the coordinators of the Consensus of Gender Violence, organized in 2018 by SOCUMES and in the meetings of researchers in gender violence, organized by the Oscar Arnulfo Romero Center. For the last 5 years, we have jointly organized a colloquium on this topic. For three years I have been part of the counseling team for women in situations of gender violence in this institution. All this has made it easier for me to raise awareness and deepen my knowledge of these issues.
-What topics will be discussed?
It is a specialized magazine of analysis of the different expressions of gender violence, which will serve as a framework for the two seasons of the series Breaking the Silence. It tells the stories of women and girls in situations of violence, in its different forms of presentation, from the most recognized and obvious, such as physical violence and sexual abuse, to the more subtle, but no less serious, such as psychological and other types of violence. In its second season, it expands and diversifies to other forms of violence, such as violence against men. There is a representation of the different contexts where it can occur, such as the family, the couple, school, work, among others.
Its first season was intentionally broadcast in early December 2016, in the framework of the Day for Non-Violence against Women and Girls. For the first time, a national teleseries addressed this issue of gender violence as a central axis, which continues in its second season as a common thread.
The themes of this second season are related to:
Sexual violence against girls, adolescents and adult women in its different forms of expression.
The consequences of gender violence affect the main victims (women), but also the rest of the family members and the perpetrators themselves.
One of the consequences of GBV is the reproduction of violence, particularly for women in the double condition of victim-victimizer.
Symbolic violence that uses women’s bodies to exercise control.
Gender violence towards homosexual men, homophobia, transphobia, paternity and homosexuality.
Rape within the family.
Violence between men.
Stories of characters with their conflicts, limited situations and responses to them are presented, with the aim of provoking recognition, analysis and awareness of this phenomenon of gender violence.
-Could you comment on the specialists?
The panels were composed of specialists from different fields of knowledge, who had two characteristics in common:
They were experts in their fields of knowledge and in issues related to GBV.
They are very sensitive to these issues.
We had 58 appearances, according to the characteristics of the topics, there were experts who participated in more than one panel on several occasions. Psychologists, Sociologists, Jurists, Journalists, Anthropologists, Pedagogues, Doctors, Historians, Filmmakers, Communicators and Photography Professionals, among others, were represented. Teamwork was achieved and the most important thing, in my opinion, is that we sought to enlighten the population on these issues, to see the signs of GBV, its causes, repercussions in the family, society, the different alternatives to face it and where to find turning points in the different situations that arise, in order not to reproduce violence and, most importantly, to prevent it.
-Any recommendations for viewers?
Not to be alarmed by these issues, since the important thing is to recognize the different forms of GBV, and that this is a social problem of such importance, that to stop at the number, or if it is more or less frequent, is not the essential thing, but if a single woman, girl or any person is in these situations, it deserves all our effort and attention. The most important thing is to PREVENT, so that GBV and any form of violence does not become naturalized. Hence the political will of our country and its institutions to achieve an effective, comprehensive and integrated response. This magazine is part of this effort, of the many that are needed.
The FMC, together with other institutions, is leading this strategy, which is already showing signs such as the helpline and the Women’s Advancement Program, among others.
-Is there anything I haven’t asked you or anything you’d also like to say?
Finally, I would like to thank once again the entire team of the magazine and Ms. Mareleen Díaz Tenorio, with whom we had a systematic exchange during the entire filming process, since she was the capable advisor of the series Breaking the Silence.
(Taken from TVC’s website)
Cuba will review more than 50 laws, as soon as the commissions are created for each of them, to decide whether to create a comprehensive law to address violence against women or to include it in other laws, said Dr. Mariela Castro Espín, President of the National Center for Sex Education, in an interview with the Cubasí website.
By We Editor
December 2, 2019
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Cuba will review more than 50 laws, as soon as the commissions are created for each one of them, to decide whether to create a comprehensive law for the attention to violence against women or to include it in other laws, declared in an interview with the Cubasí portal Dr. Mariela Castro Espín, President of the National Center for Sexual Education (Cenesex).
Cenesex, in recent times, joins more institutions and organizations of civil society and the State to advance campaigns and concrete actions that help to take better the policy of protection to the woman to the legislative changes that arise from the constitutional change and that it has contemplated to attend this reality, pointed out the specialist.
Castro Espín pointed out that the Cuban State deals with this issue, as evidenced by the fact that during the 1st International Symposium against Gender-Based Violence, Sexual Tourism, Human Trafficking and Prostitution, it was agreed that within the National Program of Education and Sexual Health, the Program of attention to all forms of violence would be addressed.
“In September we submitted to the Ministry of Public Health the proposal for a comprehensive education policy on sexuality and sexual rights.
However, she denounced the fact that there are attacks to discredit our institutions. Specific people based on the distortion of her words and efforts on the issue “and begin unfair attacks, without foundation, with a deep ignorance and ignorance, which do not help us move forward on the issue,” she said.
She also denounced the fact that “There is a lot of money, especially from the United States government, towards five main evangelical churches, which are trying to sabotage many initiatives. They are using this term gender ideology, which was created by a Catholic bishop in the 60s, precisely to discredit the international advances in the field of women’s rights and the thought of Marxist origin in relation to this issue. And our Revolution, as Fidel said, has the right to defend itself, it has the right to defend its social conquests, the rights that have been achieved in the Constitution and in the whole legislative system that is already being changed since the constitutional change”.
As a message to Cuban women, Mariela Castro sent the request that “we study, that we prepare ourselves well, because there are many people who fall into the traps of campaigns to discredit our efforts”.
She also called for not acting in isolation: “we have to unite, make alliances, because every time we make alliances and unite, we achieve effectiveness, we really achieve changes, so we do not play into the hands of the enemies of the Revolution, we unite among the organizations and institutions that are really working and that are open to all the ideas that are truly sincere and committed to revolutionary work.
In the middle of the National Day Against Violence Against Women and Girls, Mariela Castro Espín, about the origins of this social problem, said that it comes from centuries and has been expressed from a place of power. She also emphasized the role of the Catholic Church and how it has promoted nine centuries of persecution against women.
Today, she said, there are countries where women are totally enslaved and suffer greatly. Already in the 1970s, she explained, more specific terms emerged, such as femicide, which mainly alludes, from the work that Mexican anthropologist Marcela Lagarde has developed, to the irresponsibility and abandonment of the state in the face of the problem. There are studies that differentiate what is a homicide from a femicide and characterize them.
The director of CENESEX reminds us that the struggles for women’s rights around the world, the feminist movements, and women’s organizations linked to scientific study, have been contributing ways of thinking and acting on these issues, and proposals for laws have been emerging.
(With information from Cubasí)
“The leadership that the FMC has today to exalt women before themselves and society is focused on such purposes as: the conquest of women’s autonomy in all areas, the deconstruction of prejudices and stereotypes, against all forms of discrimination and oppression that restrict their development, their freedom and wound their dignity as human beings. This is a strength to fight and do, in an organized and committed way, for non-violence against women”.
Author: Dilbert Reyes Rodríguez | email@example.com
August 22, 2020 01:08:10
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Not even the largest catalogue of possible courtesies is enough to erase the trace of a single deliberate act of gender-based violence against a woman.
Calling such acts abhorrent does not accept a single minute of debate. It is more important to make better use of all the opportunities – highly potential – that we, as an organized country, and with a declared political and governmental will, have to proactively and speedily confront the scourge.
It is well known that there are cultural roots that complicate and prolong this war’, that there are different, concrete and subjective obstacles, and it is also well known that there are hunters of the naïve who are betting on taking advantage of these slopes in order to push Cubans against each other under the skin of sheep and in order to divide us.
President Díaz-Canel himself has repeated it: “In matters of law and society, they have not given up on the search for points of rupture in national unity, magnifying the possible dissent on sensitive issues such as egalitarian marriage, racism, violence against women, or the mistreatment of animals, to mention a few, in all of which we are working seriously to resolve centuries of debt that only the Revolution in power has faced with unquestionable progress.
There will be no lack of those who, once again, contract with the hackneyed accusation of “politicizing everything”, in order to distract the arguments that explain, clearly and from within, that the country is not sitting idly by on an issue as sensitive as violence against women. But since there are words that have their backing in deeds, Granma tackles the issue with Dr. Mayda Alvarez Suarez, director of the Center for Women’s Studies (CEM).
-How have actions been taken in recent years to reduce violence against women?
-There have been many debates over these years, with the aim of making the existence of violence against women in our country visible and understanding its causes, combating stereotypes and placing the issue in the development of essential policies. Important experiences of orientation, prevention, telephone help lines and protection programs have also been carried out in different territories; but we are far from feeling satisfied because we cannot forget that the phenomenon has deep roots in the patriarchy, in societies characterized for centuries by the existence of unequal, unequal and power-based relationships. It is still there, manifested in thought and relationships in couples, families, workplaces, public places, where it is not always perceived as such, nor confronted and attended to as it should and is necessary.
“Male chauvinist concepts, prejudices, sexist stereotypes persist and are reproduced in our society, anywhere and at any level, and although there have been changes in assessments and ideas about violence, which were found by the National Survey on Gender Equality – conducted in 2016 by CEM, the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC) and the Centre for Population and Development Studies of the National Office of Statistics and Information (ONEI) – we were also able to reveal which ones remain, continue to hinder further progress and are at the root of existing inequalities.
“At present, the vast majority of Cubans do not justify violence against women or men, nor do they blame women for acts of violence (mistreatment or rape) and reject the idea that women should bear it.
“However, in a part of the population there are still criteria that contribute to sustaining and perpetuating violence against women. The most entrenched are: alcohol consumption is the cause, the woman who endures the abuse is because she likes it, most women withdraw the complaint, and consider the violence a private matter. These criteria become justifications for not intervening or denouncing the acts of violence”.
-Are there results that allow us to characterize an effective advance in the reduction of violence against women?
-The First Conference of the Communist Party of Cuba, held in 2012, before the National Survey was carried out, had already declared that there was a confrontation with prejudices and discrimination of all kinds that still persist in the heart of society. In particular, in its objective No. 55, it explicitly states that it will “raise the level of rejection of gender and domestic violence and that which is manifested in the communities.
“Among the main achievements of the current phase, the new Constitution of the Republic stands out, which expands and strengthens the protection of rights, particularly those of women and girls.
“The recognition of the right to a life free of violence (Articles 43, 85 and 86), the commitment to address it, ratifies the importance of prevention and enhances the mandatory responsibility of the State in the implementation of legal standards, public policies and the improvement of protection mechanisms for victims. At present, a process is under way to harmonize the new articles of the Constitution with various legislations that will allow its effective implementation, for example, the modification and updating of the Family Code, which will be brought to a process of popular consultation and referendum. The Criminal Code is also being analysed and amendments are being suggested.
“The Standing Committee on Children’s and Youth Affairs and Women’s Rights of the National Assembly of People’s Power is an important ally in promoting compliance with the Cuban State’s agenda for the advancement of Cuban women and in monitoring its implementation.
“In order to assess the progress made in reducing violence against women, better records are needed of the acts of violence that are detected and dealt with, and of their follow-up and solution. Ongoing statistics are needed to make it possible to compare, over time, the increase or decrease in cases, the prevalence and incidence of violence in a given population, and its frequency and severity, among other indicators.
“There is also a need to carry out periodic surveys on violence against women, which would allow for its systematic evaluation in selected periods and data of international comparability”.
-How much more do you think can be done, under the current conditions, to accelerate the change of such behaviours in the country?
-Above all, it is urgent to perfect ways, procedures, mechanisms, protocols of action in the institutions involved and everything necessary to attend, immediately, with respect and without prejudice, to the victims of violence, and to apply the law rigorously to those who commit these acts.
“Improving the presence of the subject in the laws in force, which are currently in the process of being modified, is also very important. However, my personal opinion is that we would benefit from a specific and comprehensive law on violence against women, which contemplates all the measures and sanctions that already appear in existing laws, and others that need to be enacted.
“Regarding macho conceptions and stereotypes, everything that is done to generate transformations in subjectivity is key: creative communication products, adequately focused from a gender perspective, training courses, community and face-to-face debates, the use of social networks
“Essential is the training in gender and violence to decision makers and lawyers because of the importance of their role in this issue, the insertion in curricula, in the training of educators, communication specialists, among other actors.
“Exchanging experiences with other countries, both to research and to confront and address in practice these facts, adapting them to our context, is also very useful, since violence against women is a global problem.
“On the other hand, the FMC has valued the need to increase the confrontation to the facts of violence in the communities, from our base structures and, for that, to raise the level of training of our leaders and collaborators of the Women and Family Orientation Houses. From the fmc, we have always affirmed that the most important thing is not that there are many or few of them, but that whenever there is a woman who is violated, she is well cared for and her rights are defended.
-What strengths exist to confront this?
-We have the political will of our Party and Government. The confrontation with violence is endorsed in the programmatic documents of the Party and in the Constitution. Instruments such as the Family Code, which was approved in 1975 and is in the process of being modified as I mentioned earlier. There’s also the National Plan of Action to follow up on the agreements of the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1997, contain principles and actions to guarantee gender equality and non-violence.
“The educational and employment opportunities enjoyed by women, as well as access to free and universal health services, including sexual and reproductive health services, have placed Cuban women in a better position to achieve autonomy and independence, which weakens the chances of experiencing situations of dependence and having to endure, for that reason, situations of violence.
“The safety and protection of sons and daughters is also guaranteed. The State provides free education for the offspring, their food and systematic medical care, with no gender differences. Thus, for example, girls show as high percentages of education as boys. There are also institutional support mechanisms for low-income families, especially for single mothers.
“The leadership that the FMC has today to exalt women before itself and before society is focused on such purposes: the conquest of women’s autonomy in all areas, the deconstruction of prejudices and stereotypes, against all forms of discrimination and oppression that restrict their development, their freedom and wound their dignity as human beings. This is a strength for fighting and doing, in an organized and committed way, for non-violence against women”.
The intention, expressed or underlying, in this type of violence is to control the woman, to deprive her of dignity, self-esteem, autonomy and voice; thus, she is modeled as an extension of the man and all her value lies in the union of beauty and utility, her “respect” for the rules that are pointed out to her, her obedience and her disposition to fulfill basic tasks: home order, accompaniment, pleasure and reproduction
Author: Victor Fowler | firstname.lastname@example.org
May 29, 2020 00:05:36
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
This is the name given to the set of attitudes, actions, expressions, speeches and devices of all kinds that aim to control, humiliate, degrade or cause physical, moral, economic, sexual or psychological suffering or harm to a woman just because of her condition. It is a constitutive characteristic of relationships of domination-submission and those who participate in the process occupy the roles of victimizer or victim.
The intention, expressed or underlying, in this type of violence is to control the woman, to deprive her of dignity, self-esteem, autonomy and voice; thus, she is modeled as an extension of man and her entire value lies in the union of beauty and utility, her “respect” for the rules that are set forth, her obedience and her willingness to fulfill basic tasks: home order, companionship, pleasure and reproduction.
The manifestations of violence against women can be either continuous or discontinuous, refined or crude, subtle or evident, charged with anger and the application of physical force (pushing, hitting) or psychological and expressed through silence, disinterest or the devaluation of what the woman thinks or feels. The above-mentioned devices cover all areas and moments in the victim’s life and are presented as a mixture in which there are – acting in conjunction – elements of prevention, “education”, surveillance, control, blackmail, discipline and punishment.
Although the extreme cases (beating, physical attack, rape or femicide) become public – thanks to the intervention of the Law and the mass media – most violence against women is “naturalized” and takes place in the public space, in situations of apparent normality, or “inside” the families, where there are no witnesses. Violence against women denies women the right to decide what kind of intervention they want or accept, what forms of social exchange and even what limits.
Examples of the above are actions with a sexual content such as compliments, unsolicited physical contact, harassment and sexual aggression; discrimination (direct or indirect, at work or otherwise) due to the status of women; threats with respect to child support or power, and the dynamics of patriarchal and androcentric authoritarianism in the family, the workplace or any place in public space and society.
Bibliography consulted (main sources)
El género en el derecho (Gender in Law). Ramiro Ávila Santamaría; Judith Salgado and Lola Valladares (compilation). Quito: Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, 2009.
Gamba, Susana- Diz, Tania. Diccionario de estudios de género y feminismos. Buenos Aires: Biblos, 2007.
Jokin Azpiazu Carballo. Masculinities and feminism. Barcelona: Virus Editorial, 2017.
Straka, Ursula (coordinator). Gender violence. Caracas: Universidad Católica Andrés Bello, Posgrado Área de Derecho; Amnesty International; Reforma Judicial, 2015.
Cuadernos de género: Políticas y acciones de género. Training materials / Marta Aparicio García; Begoña Leyra Fatou and Rosario Ortega Serrano (eds.) Madrid: Instituto Complutense de Estudios Internacionales, 2009.
The Chilean Government is preparing a set of measures to expand the network of support for women victims of gender violence from government and business bodies
April 7, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
The Ministry of Women and Gender Equality in Chile reported on Monday a 70 percent increase in calls made by women to a domestic violence hotline during the first weekend under quarantine in the country following the health crisis generated by the coronavirus.
The information came to light as part of a study provided by the minister of the portfolio, Carolina Cuevas, who implemented a contingency plan that included special reinforcement of the Fono Orientación 1455 shifts, to protect women who reported being subjected to domestic violence.
The weekend before the quarantine, 532 calls were received, while in the same period, one week later, the number rose to 907. “This significant increase in calls is also a reflection of the fact that there is a need to ask for guidance and help in times when women are spending more time in our homes, possibly with our partners,” Cuevas explained.
For its part, the Public Prosecutor’s Office reported that, although reports of domestic violence have decreased by 18 percent compared to last March, reports of femicide have increased by 200 percent in the same period of time.
The Chilean government is preparing other measures to expand the network of support for women victims of gender violence, such as coordination with public agencies to safeguard care in periods of emergency, increasing the capacity of shelters and a messaging service, via SMS or WhatsApp, so that women can communicate in a “silent” manner that will be implemented in the following weeks.
Cuevas also met with the president of the employers’ union, the Confederation of Production and Commerce (CPC), Juan Sutil, to discuss the impact of the health crisis on women workers. The minister requested that companies provide formal support to women in preventing domestic violence and incorporate the issue into their permanent policies.
In this regard, a group of Chilean women legislators and feminist organizations sent a letter to President Sebastián Piñera, asking him to strengthen measures to prevent violence, to prohibit the sale of alcohol that can trigger violent acts, such as creating immediate action groups and establishing strategies for reporting violence through websites, pharmacies or supermarkets. Gael Yeomans, MP and president of Convergencia Social, said that additional measures should be taken to allow victims of gender-based violence to break out of quarantine if they need help.
By Amelia Duarte de la Rosa
November 25, 2019
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
The world commemorates this November 25 International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, even though one in three women on the planet suffers physical or sexual violence.
However, the term “Violence Against Women” coined by the UN in 1993, encompasses many types of attacks beyond physical, sexual or psychological, and also has to do with any threatening act, whether it occurs in life public as in private.
Many women in the world suffer from labor and political violence as an inalienable part of gender inequality and lack of equal rights for women and girls.
Among the highest rates of gender violence worldwide are found in the Pacific region, the Middle East and Africa, where although physical or sexual rape has a higher incidence, the female population is unprotected in terms of economic empowerment, political leadership and inclusion.
According to the United Nations Annual Report 2017-2018, women remain trapped in a network of inequalities that place them in the worst part of unpaid care, social protection and insecurity.
Gender disparities also intersect with gaps in education, income and access to services, as well as ethnicity, sexual orientation and geographic location.
In addition, women and girls are particularly vulnerable in education, which prevents them from achieving universal schooling and having more employment opportunities.
Harassment, discrimination at work and psychological aggressiveness also affect them as victims, because women are exposed to strenuous work schedules, low earnings, difficult conditions and an increased risk of violence.
UN Women data shows that one in 10 women in the European Union declares that they have suffered cyber-bullying since the age of 15. This includes unwanted, sexually explicit and offensive emails or SMS [text] messages, or inappropriate and offensive attempts in the social networks, which are positioned as the main means through which this psychological violence is exercised.
Meanwhile, a study conducted in 27 universities in the United States revealed that 23 percent of university students are victims of sexual assault or sexual misconduct.
For its part, Africa is one of the most restrictive continents in terms of women’s rights and it is estimated that millions of them have been subjected to female genital mutilation.
In addition, it leads the ranking as the region with the least safe abortions in the world, followed by Oceania and Latin America, which takes thousands of lives each year.
It is believed that only one in four abortions is carried out in safe conditions.
UN Women implements an aid plan in several countries to close these gender gaps and create counseling centers for survivors of violence.
In addition, some governments develop economic empowerment plans to counter violence against women, such as in Japan, which, for example, approved paternity leave to allow the professional development of mothers.
However, all action continues to seem useless when, UN data confirms that 71 percent of victims of trafficking worldwide are women and girls, and one in two women in 2017 was killed by their sentimental partner or a member of their family.
(Taken from PL)
From the Editors. April 15, 2019
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews
Fear, shame, fright, confusion, astonishment and discomfort in the face of the situation are just some of the reactions that several Cuban men said they felt when they were harassed in the street by a woman. Such unusual scenes are part of a social experiment carried out by the Oscar Arnulfo Romero Center (OAR), which toured the networks in the form of a video and reflects what happens when harassment occurs the other way around and it is women who verbally “assault” men.
At phrases like “you’re super cute,” “how hot you are,” “I didn’t want to know the time, what I wanted was to talk to you, mess with you because you’re divine,” or “kidding, but please believe me,” the men who were harassed felt assaulted in various ways, as they said after being informed that it was a hidden video.
“I was ashamed to see a young girl, pretty, giving herself away, saying: look, I want to go out with you, because it’s very strange”, said one of the interviewees.
Another of them claimed to have “gone blank” at the approach of a stranger, while a third said “he felt attacked, because the form and the words he used were not correct”. She added, however: “with harassment there is nothing right, everything is unpleasant, it goes against the integrity of the person”.
“I thought I was crazy, because the man is the one who always harasses the woman, not the woman harassing the man”; or “I got scared, I felt nervous, this is the first time this has happened to me” were feelings that the experiment generated for them.
According to statements by Juan Carlos Travieso, director of the video social experiment, the purpose of this initiative is “to put men in the place where women usually are and then in the place where men are almost always.
“We are trying to make people think about and respect the individuality and integrity of human beings, so that everyone can decide what to do with their body, who touches it or not,” said the director.
The controversy about what to understand by sexual harassment also emerged from the comments of the men interviewed. This was in the face of ideas such as their dependence on the way in which they address women, or the conception of the so-called compliment as “something of our idiosyncrasy that should not be lost, as long as it is said in a nice way, with respect”.
“Harassment is a crime, but it is not the same to interfere with them as in fooling around than to harass them” or “it depends on the woman, in the way in which it is done: it is not the same as a compliment or disrespect” were other opinions of the men, many of whom agreed that harassment is not seen well in a woman, but in men it is “normal”.
This social experiment is an idea of the members of OAR’s Youth Articulation Network and is linked to the approaches of the Evoluciona campaign, which conceives street harassment as an expression of male violence.
Widely socialized on the networks in recent days, its publication coincided with the International Week against Street Harassment, an initiative that was born in Peru in 2011, and seeks to inform women about their rights and condemn any form of sexual violence in the street.
For journalist Dainerys Mesa Padrón, who is a member of the campaign team, this experiment opens the fingerboard on an edge of women’s body control and social relations. At the same time, it contributes to the discussion of street harassment in Cuba and its naturalization [acceptance], because it is associated with traditional cultural practices.
“It is essential to change the belief that our self-esteem depends on compliments, on an opinion about our body or clothes in order to feel good. [These are] ideas that most people assume to be normal, when it is a clear symptom of violence against women,” she said in the making of the video.
Harassment vs. compliments: daily acceptance of violence
One of the expressions of gender violence is sexual violence and, within it, sexual harassment is one of the most invisible, minimized, legitimized and silenced forms of violence, psychologist Mareelén Díaz Tenorio, an OAR specialist, told SEMlac.
According to the expert, sexual harassment practices are very diverse and range from sexual approximation, demand for sexual favors, insinuations, physical contacts (touching, pinching, talking in the ear, overlapping, grabbing, touching, patting, squeezing, deliberate rubbing), to teasing and jokes with sexual and offensive content.
This group also includes telephone calls, notes, letters, texts, photographs, emails with sexual and aggressive content (through cell phones and cyberspace); the display of pornographic material; lewd looks; obscene gestures; exhibitionism: showing one’s genitals or naked body to another person without their consent; public masturbation with or without ejaculation and cornering, among others.
“We are talking about various practices of a sexual nature and connotation, unwanted and offensive, that do not consider the impact on the recipient. They are intrusive and have repercussions for physical and psychological integrity,” she said.
The psychologist indicated that the contexts in which sexual harassment occurs can be institutional (work, educational, religious), family, public and social networks (cyber-harassment).
Street harassment occurs precisely in public spaces. “It is carried out by unknown people and it is less visible because it is legitimized by culture,” she said.
The specialist points out that there is great controversy about what is meant by sexual harassment and compliments. In her opinion, not all compliments are sexual harassment.
“It is supposed that compliment is a compliment and ceases to be a compliment to become sexual harassment when the action is unwanted and is experienced with annoyance, displeasure, affectation, harm, even when its content is not offensive, vulgar or obscene. There is no good compliment and no bad compliment. There is a compliment and sexual harassment,” she emphasized.
“Many people legitimize the compliment at all costs because they consider it a cultural tradition in the Cuban context. The ablation of the clitoris is a practice of certain cultures and does not stop being extreme sexual violence,” said Díaz Tenorio.
In her opinion, there is a social imaginary in which women exist as objects of sexual desire and it is “normal” to judge their bodies and use them without their consent. In the public space, practices are seen as “natural” that cannot be cataloged as compliments, but as authentic expressions of sexual harassment. If they are not recognized as such, we are guaranteeing their perpetuity, their injustice and the harmful consequences for the victims (not only women, but also girls), she said.
For María Teresa Díaz Álvarez, also an OAR specialist, the so-called compliment becomes street harassment when it involves insult, imposition, and the intention to bend. “Then it becomes a pattern of abuse,” she warned.
Oxfam’s report “Breaking the Moulds: Transforming Imaginaries and Social Norms to Eliminate Violence” found that among the young Cuban population, “complimenting” women is still seen as logical and normal.
With the participation by Cuba in the Center for Psychological and Sociological Research, in collaboration with OAR and Oxfam in Cuba, the investigation concluded that 75 percent of young people between the ages of 15 and 25 accept street harassment (whistles and compliments) as natural.
The study delved into youth images regarding violence against women and points out that more than 81 percent of girls and boys think that most of their friends see this behavior as normal.
On the other hand, several young people from different age groups and territories linked these demonstrations with provocative actions by women in their attitude and way of dressing. Others placed responsibility on the beliefs and social norms that condition these machista and stereotyped practices.
Liset Imbert Milán, OAR’s legal advisor, told SEMlac that harassment is not expressly regulated today, as it does not appear in any legal norm. [there’s no law against it, ed.]
She pointed out that the new Magna Carta endorsed last February opens the doors in its article 43 to improve and include these issues in the rest of the laws, insofar as it states that “it protects from gender violence in any of its manifestations and spaces, and creates the institutional and legal mechanisms for it”, and harassment is a form of violence.
Beyond legal remedies, it is a question of making the phenomenon visible, since in the workplace the employer’s obligation to ensure the physical, moral and psychological integrity of workers is regulated, while in the criminal field, from the extensive interpretation of the jurists, it could be used as a means of ensuring the physical, moral and psychological integrity of workers.
“However, much remains to be done, not only in terms of rules, but also in raising awareness among law enforcement officials and law enforcement officials, as well as empowering and giving a legal culture to society in general,” the jurist stressed.
In this regard, the Evoluciona campaign has found echo in many voices, individuals, groups and institutions that join the strategy of awareness, largely youth, in the opinion of Diaz Tenorio.
“Of course there is resistance. But the inert is not the polemic. The indolent would be the absolute acceptance of harassment as `natural´ and indifference. If there is controversy we are on the road to change, which will occur when the insertion of women’s rights in the multiple ways of education and spaces of socialization of the country,” said the expert.
In addition to the social experiment, broadcast on television and social networks, during the International Week against Street Harassment, workshops were held on communication and equity, exchanges with young people from the University of Havana, polytechnic and pre-university students from territories such as Jobabo, in the eastern province of Las Tunas.
The social networks were flooded with messages from audio-visual directors, singers, journalists and other opinion leaders about why street harassment should be eliminated, generating multiple comments and positioning interesting like #PonteEnMiLugar.
January 20, 2019
Chapter III. Article 85. Family violence, in whatever its manifestations, is considered destructive of the persons involved…
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
This cartoon was one of a many which appeared in the newspaper Juventud Rebelde during the campaign to secure approval of the new Cuban constitution.
Author: Msc. Mareelen Díaz Tenorio* | email@example.com
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
By Alexis Culay Pérez, Félix Santana Suárez, Reynaldo Rodríguez Ferra and Carlos Pérez Alonso
SOURCE: Rev Cubana Med Gen Integr 2000;16(5):450-4
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
A descriptive horizontal study was carried out to learn the behavior of violence against women in the micro-district “Ignacio Agramonte”, of the “Tula Aerie” Policlinic in Camagüey. The period studied was from August 1st, 1997 to January 31st, 1998. From a total of 1088 women between the ages of 15-49, 310 were chosen to conduct a survey. The size of the survey was calculated using the well known statistical program EPIDAT. The results of the survey showed that 226 women reported some type of violence. This is 72,9% of the women interviewed. Psychological violence was reported by half the women, sexual violence by a third and physical violence was the least reported. The majority of women who reported violence were 30-39 year-old women with high school education. The great majority of the women victimized didn’t request professional help.
Gaceta Médica Espirituana 2008; 10(2)
Medical Faculty “Dr. Faustino Pérez Hernández”
By Dra. Help Walls García1, Dra. Anabel González Muro2, Dr. Jorge Luis Toledo Prado3, Dr. Ernesto Calderón González4, Dra. Yurien Negrín Calvo5
1 First grade Specialist in Child Psychiatry. Adjutant Professor, Resident MGI
2 First grade Specialist in General Psychiatry. Adjutant Professor
3 First grade Specialist in General Psychiatry
4 First grade Specialist in MGI 5
A CubaNews translation by Giselle Gil
Edited by Walter Lippmann
Due to frequent reports of family violence against adolescents received at Clinic No.29 of the Sancti Spíritus Area Mental Health Community Center a research was carried out. The main objective of this study was to describe some of the characteristics of family violence. A horizontal descriptive study was made which included 63 adolescents between the ages of 10-18. We calculated the violence frequency as well as that of age and sex, abuse types, parent-child relations to the victim, symptoms associated with abuse and if the family is conscious of this violence. Results showed a high percent of family violence towards girls and towards children in the 13-15 year old group. Violence was found to be mostly psychological rather than physical. We also found mothers are more violent and that low self esteem and aggressiveness are the most common symptoms. Only a low percent of the families were aware of being violent. Based on these results we made a proposal to investigate this problem further in the different health areas. Further study will also help design community intervention strategies to eliminate or reduce this violence that affects adolescents and the rest of the family.
By Dr. Mario C. Muñiz Ferrer, Dra. Yanayna Jiménez García, Dra. Daisy Ferrer Marrero and Prof. Jorge González Pérez
A CubaNews translation by Giselle Gil
Edited by Walter Lippmann
A descriptive study of the results of the test “what I don’t like about my family” was carried out with the objective of studying family violence and how to confront it in a health area. The test was applied to 147 5th and 6th grade children studying in the “Roberto Poland” School located in the “Antonio Maceo” neighborhood of the municipality of Cerro. The different types of family violence were classified and grouped by incidence frequency. Family violence prevalence was also calculated, as well as its possible relation to drinking. The results allowed us to establish that family violence is a health problem and that it is related to the intake of alcoholic beverages.
One of the most pressing problems that humanity faces in the XXI century is violence. We live in a world in which violence has become the most common way of solving conflicts. Today it is a social problem of great magnitude that systematically affects millions of people in the whole planet in the most diverse environments, without distinction of country, race, age, sex or social class.
Psychological gender violence is a covert form of aggression and coercion. Because its consequences are neither easily seen nor verified, and because it is difficult to detect, it is more and more used. Its use frequently reflects the power relationships that place the masculine as axis of all experience, including those that take place inside the family environment.1
Psychological gender violence expressed in the family environment acquires different shades depending on the context in which it takes place. In a rural environment, we generally find families with specific characteristics such as low schooling, resistance to change, inadequate confrontation and communication styles. All this favors the stronger persistence of patterns belonging to a patriarchal culture in this area rather than in urban areas, and therefore, women become victims, especially of violence.2
Cuba has a large population in urban as well as in rural areas, and so doesn’t escape from this reality (that of feminine victimización), even when our social system contributes decisively to stop many of the factors that favor violence against women. Also, we have propitiated substantial modifications of the place and role of the family as a fundamental cell of society. But, even today, we haven’t achieved a radical reorganization of the patriarchal features present in the national identity or on socializing agents like family.