Irina Echarry

Cuban girl.  Photo: Caridad
Cuban girl. Photo: Caridad

It’s a phrase that appears repeatedly in the headlines of any newspaper in the world.

Serial killers, sex maniacs, abusive bosses, Latin machos, husbands with complexes, resentful sons, and frustrated fathers and guardians…Violence against us can come from any corner and end up trumpeted in huge red or black letters on the front pages of newspapers, or simply buried in the obituary section.

In my country, although there are people – highly professional to be sure – who study gender violence, the theme is barely mentioned in the media, unless it’s to speak of violence suffered by Mexican, North American or Chilean women.  Otherwise, there’s no room for it.

The other possibility is to wait for a specific event where you can hear academic papers or lectures on the topic, but the great majority of Cuban woman are barely aware that such events exist.

If we’re going to speak about women, it’s better to talk of their progress since the Revolution, or of what percent they represent within any official statistic; or of breast cancer, or their possibilities of integrating into the Voluntary Military Service.

I’ve never read in a newspaper about how Beatrice lost her vision in one eye due to the beatings of her husband; or that Rebecca had to leave her job for the third time because her boss wouldn’t leave her alone; or that Zulema has a long prison sentence to serve after killing her husband, perhaps in self-defense; or that Clarita has been living on the street for months since her family threw her out of the house for being a lesbian.

Very few of us know it, but a few community centers do exist, similar to those of Alcoholics Anonymous, where women can learn to get away from violent relationships.

Each municipality has a House for Attention to Women and Families, centers created by the Federation of Cuban Women, where different courses are offered so that women who need them can learn to be independent.  They also have a mental health clinic where a psychologist can see those who have problems.

These classes aren’t free, however, and the existence of the clinics isn’t well known.  But the problem really centers on a more delicate matter.

If the official media doesn’t reflect the magnitude of the problem, how can little Julio who’s now 15 and for his whole life has watched his father yell and mistreat his mother, think of doing anything different?  Who is there to tell him that this isn’t right?  Who will explain to him that the law protects women?

There are many young people like Julio who have grown up without ever thinking about this problem, who believe, as is taught in the schools, that women in Cuba have won their full rights and are never mistreated.

So they, too, scream at their mothers, hit their wives, or simply make their girlfriends’ lives impossible, to state the most common practice, when they don’t give them sexual satisfaction.

It’s a complex and difficult topic, and it’s not enough to dissect it with tweezers once a year on a television program or to debate it in closed circles.  The topic should be aired for the masses, for the women workers who spend the day laboring and later, despite this being the 21st century, are expected to serve dinner and attend to the children all by themselves.

Cuba’s mass media – the television, and the written and online press should reflect reality as we live it, so that later we can all try together to change it.


Irina Echarry

Irina Echarry: I enjoy reading, going to the movies and spending time with my friends. Many of the people I love are dead, or are no longer in Cuba. I will do my best to transmit my thoughts, ideas or worries via these pages so you can get to know me. I will give an idea of my age, since it helps explain certain things. I’m over thirty-five, and I think that’s enough information. I don’t have any children yet, or nieces or nephews. There are days when I transform myself into a child with no age at all in order to see life from another angle. It helps me break the monotony and survive in this strange world.

3 thoughts on “Violence against Women

  • Dear The Princes, Hello, I wonder if you could make your comments to an English-language article in English? I personally can, with my elementary grasp of Spanish, kind of figure out what you’re saying, but it’s difficult. It’s possible that many people around the world who read HT have no ability whatsoever to understand Spanish .

    On the other hand, if you simply cannot write in English, I suppose a comment in Spanish is better than none at all.

    Best wishes.

  • dear walter lipman, cuando Irina dice “the theme is barely mentioned in the media, unless it’s to speak of violence suffered by Mexican, North American or Chilean women. Otherwise, there’s no room for it.” es porque en los medios masivos de comunicación apenas se trata el asunto desde nuestra realidad objetiva. ¿Qué es internet? Es para ustedes y unos cuantos cubanos, ahí no se vale. ¿Usted ve la televisión cubana? ¿Cómo puede criticar la visión de ella, que sí vive en Cuba y sabe de qué está hablando? ¿Cuántos ejemplares imprime Somos Jóvenes? ¿A cuántos llega el Juventud rebelde? Eso no lo sabe usted porque no vive aquí, y cuando lo hace es desde su condición Privilegiada de Extranjero Amigo. Entonces, me gustaría que hablara con mayor propiedad, ella expresa sus vivencias y preocupaciones diarias…usted la critica desde su cómoda habitación con internet…

  • Irina Echarry is right that violence against women is a serious problem in Cuba. However, she’s not right to say, “the theme is barely mentioned in the media, unless it’s to speak of violence suffered by Mexican, North American or Chilean women. Otherwise, there’s no room for it.”

    Articles about this existing social phenomenon are published in the Cuban media, though of course there could always be more. Here are a few examples:

    Cuba Profunda: Dixie Edith: Words that Hurt (2008)
    http://www.walterlippmann.com/docs2137.html

    Juventud Rebelde: Love Can be Deadly (2006)
    http://www.walterlippmann.com/docs1051.html

    Somos Jovenes: Love Without Violence
    http://www.walterlippmann.com/docs1173.html

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