by Yohanka Valdés
Despite the social transformations that have contributed to advancing women’s rights in Cuba in past decades, violence against women is still a concern. Oxfam supports the work that key organizations are doing in the country to push violence out of the private realm and into the public sphere. Among them are the Federation of Cuban Women, the Center for Psychological and Sociological Research (CIPS) and the National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX).
As in many other countries, there is a need for more research and documentation of the problem in Cuba, as well as significant demand for building the capacity of professionals from the education, health, justice and other sectors who are confronted with the issue in their work.
On November 25th, a large number of people gathered at the Cultural House of ALBA, located in the Vedado in Havana, to mark the launch of a new publication, Family violence in Cuba. Studies, social realities and challenges, prepared by the Center for Psychological and Sociological Research and supported by Oxfam. The event brought together specialists from different disciplines, students, representatives of the media and members of the public, providing an opportunity for reflection and debate on this social reality that is still poorly addressed and often naturalized in the daily lives of Cubans.
After the presentation by some of its authors, audience reactions were swift. The attendees shared views on the need to see violence as an issue for everyone. In the words of a woman who introduced herself as a housewife and advocate in her community, “this material comes at the right time, because we need information to support the work we do with families and women, so they do not become the victims that many of us have been.”
Similarly, the discussion pointed out the importance of connecting violence with other discriminatory situations that women suffer such as the questioning of sexual diversity and disability. It also stressed the importance of further raising the issue of violence, making it visible and devoting efforts to its elimination.
In that spirit, it is exciting that more and more organizations are working together as part of the Campaign against Violence against Women, promoting workshops, lectures and debates that will continue until December 16th. The launch of this publication is the result of joint efforts between three Oxfam partner organizations that put the fight against violence and the promotion of a culture of peace at the core of their work, namely the CIPS, the Felix Varela Center and CENESEX.
Yohanka Valdés is Oxfam’s gender specialist in Cuba and co-author of the recently published book ‘Family violence in Cuba. Studies, social realities and challenges’.
Translated by Beatriz Gonzalez.