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* | 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
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.