Sexual Harassment is also Violence

Rosa Martinez

Guantanamo, Cuba.  Photo: Reynaldo la O

HAVANA TIMES – Yani, that’s how everyone in the neighborhood knows one of the most beautiful girls from around these parts.

Pretty much nobody remembers her real name, I do though because we are very close, she is one of my dearest younger cousins.

But, one thing everyone agrees on, is that this 18-year-old tanned-skinned, tall, curly and long-haired girl with caramel-colored eyes, a slim waist and long legs could inspire any poet, not only with her beauty, but with her sensuality too. 

You walk like a goddess, a man much older than her told her, who we ran into as we wandered about the city, as it was Carnival here at the time.

It wasn’t the first time that we had retraced the capital of Guantanamo’s streets together, but it had been a while since the last time, which is why I was taken aback by the number of catcalls she got, and I was really bothered by other people’s rudeness.

The thing is, my little cousin grew up overnight, and maybe because I see her every day, I hadn’t realized until then, that she was no longer a girl anymore and had become a beautiful woman.

That day, while we laughed together, chatted, shared our secrets and escapades, she suffered, first-hand, the harassment of a culture that is becoming more and more crude, even if it is becoming more educated.

One guy stared at her, as if he wanted to devour her with his eyes and said: you’re a stunner.

My cousin said thank you without looking at him and carried on walking, but I’m sure she would have preferred to hear something more along the lines of you’re so beautiful or pretty woman… but, that never happened.

Even though we hadn’t planned to be out so long, night took us by surprise in one of the busiest areas of Guantanamo’s Carnival celebrations.

And that’s when something completely unexpected happened. A strong man, elegantly dressed, but with an extravagant attitude, pulled my cousin’s arm and pushed her against him, touching her buttocks in the tight trousers they were in.

I’m not someone who is easily frightened, but that caught me off-guard and I let out a little scream.

In two seconds, several things went through my mind. Is he an old boyfriend who thinks he has the right to do whatever he wants with her? Is he a gang member or what? Is he a simple thief or pervert? In any of those cases, he wouldn’t have the right to act like this…

When I reacted, which I think was faster than my thought process, and tried to attack the bold man, I didn’t need to do anything, my little, sweet girl had kicked him in the stomach and broke free from his daring hands.

He was left confused and the girl attacked again, and boom, he fell to the ground. The two of us ran off without even looking either side of us.

When I managed to see back to the place, out of the corner of my eye, where the unpleasant event had taken place, I saw two other men picking up the aggressor and saying stupid things, such as compadre, you were asking for it by being so daring.

We slowed down our pace… it seemed like we had left danger behind us, but my body was still shaken by fear, much less from my mind. I kept thinking about it for days, remembering what had happened.

Rosa Martínez

Rosa Martinez: I am another Havana Times contributing writer, university professor and mother of two beautiful and spoiled girls, who are my greatest joy. My favorite passions are reading and to write and thanks to HT I’ve been able to satisfy the second. I hope my posts contribute towards a more inclusive and more just Cuba. I hope that someday I can show my face along with each of my posts, without the fear that they will call me a traitor, because I’m not one.

One thought on “Sexual Harassment is also Violence

  • Hi Rosa, why do you think the culture is becoming more crude? I don’t know your culture? Here, I would guess the influence of porn, sexualised media including video games are part of the story? In Cuba, is mass Tourism an indirect cause also?

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