By Pedro Pablo Morejon
HAVANA TIMES – It was 2014 and most of us Cubans didn’t have Internet access at the time, however, a piece of news spread by word of mouth: the murder of a young woman in Artemisa by her ex-partner, a guy who couldn’t accept that the woman didn’t want to know anything about him anymore.
The viral nature of the news was due to the brutality of the murder; it happened in the middle of the street in this city, right next to the Baptist Church. Photos taken as part of the police investigation were leaked and this also helped, as well as people who zoomed in with their morbid curiosity.
Ever since then, now with access to social media, we found out about the murder of some woman in Santiago, another one in Matanzas, another one in Camaguey, here in Pinar del Rio and so on, all over Cuba, week after week. No province or region hasn’t made the headlines with this kind of news.
News, I must add, that is rarely ever published in the so-called official press.
But this isn’t something that’s only started happening recently. No. It’s a phenomenon, if we can call it such, that has been happening since the dawn of time. I’ll never forget two femicides during my childhood, in my neighborhood:
Lala, a neighbor who had left her husband for another man, was stabbed by the former in a bus, in Entronque de Ovas. According to witnesses, when the vehicle stopped to let passengers out, the man came on threateningly, carrying a knife. People ran away in terror, including her lover, who left her alone so she could be stabbed seconds later over 10 times, cutting her life short.
She’d been at my house the evening before. I was 6 years old and that really had an impact on me.
A while later, another neighbor who divorced her husband, split the house and they both tried to carry on with their lives.
It wasn’t long before she brought another man home. They’d make love meters from her ex, a thin wooden wall between them that couldn’t contain the sounds and high-sounding words coming from the other room. The woman would moan and praise her lover’s phallic attributes, night after night.
Until one day, her ex overcome with rage and a hurt ego, stabbed her again and again, taking her life.
I recently had a woman come and confess her story to me. After years of abuse, she decided to separate from her husband, a few months ago. She doesn’t love him anymore; in fact she feels disgust and fear for him. The man, who can’t accept the loss of his “property”, began to become more hostile, cutting her hair, beating her and even threatening to mutilate and kill her.
He raped her once and after the vile deed and manipulation, he told some neighbors “but she gives me hope because she slept with me the other night.”
While she’s there, not saying anything to her family out of fear of a “disgrace”, without wanting to report him because she’s dead scared of him, plus, when she did, the police officer in charge of her area didn’t think much of it.
She’s there, alone, unprotected, just like her predator wants.
She’s thinking about running away, leaving everything behind, her house, which took her years to build, because while it’s true these things happen everywhere, there aren’t shelters here or restrainment orders or criminal provisions to punish different forms of intimate partner violence, nor is there a political will to protect anyone, much less women. Here, we have the law of the jungle.
This is why I hope God, the Universe, whatever it is, if it exists, protects her this time.
I want to point out that I’m one of the few men that think many women can be unfaithful and manipulative, that they aren’t all angels or better human beings just because they’re women.
Or that intimate partner violence is a one-sided phenomenon like feminism tries to make us believe and that women also abuse men, especially psychologically.
That men are also human beings that deserve to be loved, appreciated, and respected.
But it’s also true that nothing justifies the harassment, manipulation, murder, rape, beating or any other form of abuse against women, and in Cuba this is a scourge that we can no longer close our eyes to.
More for women, because they are not only victims of violence from some men, but also from the State.
They don’t enjoy the feats achieved by women in the Western world in terms of women’s rights, they take on the worst burden of life in this society riddled with problems and hardship.