Femicides are on the rise in Cuba, something that activists attribute to the “weak network of family and community support” and to the fact that many cases of sexist violence are not reported.
In the first half of the year, 24 women died violently, there were four attempted attacks and one vicarious murder was verified, according to the independent platform Yo Sí Te Creo en Cuba, which together with other organizations collects this data in the absence of a count. official.
In comparison, this group verified 36 femicides in the whole of last year and 32 in 2020, including 4 vicarious murders.
With reports that reached four cases of sexist violence a week, that platform denounced to Efe that, in case they make the complaints, “there is no action by the authorities that contains that aggressor.”
Another of the patterns documented and shared with Efe by a spokeswoman who asked to remain anonymous is “the naturalization that violence prior to femicide has, not only institutionally, but also in the family and community.”
Many women manage to get out of that cycle of violence, but others “end up being killed because something or all of the institutional, family and community fails,” lamented the group.
YOUNG PEOPLE FROM RURAL COMMUNITIES
Yo Sí Te Creo in Cuba explained to Efe that most of the victims are young people from rural communities and that the aggressors are usually partners or ex-partners.
The last case that this group has registered is a sexist attack on August 18 in Vertientes (east), in which Yodeisi Fabelo was injured and her 7-year-old daughter died.
The average age of the victims was 29.6 years, while in the first six months of 2021 it was 36.9, according to data from feminist platforms collated by Efe. At least 43.7% of the women were killed by their current partner and 37.5% left orphaned children.
Cuba does not publish figures on sexist violence. The most recent data on this topic is that of a 2016 National Gender Equality Survey, in which 10,698 women were questioned.
It notes that 26.7% of Cuban women between 15 and 74 years old claimed to have suffered some type of violence in their partner relationship in the 12 months prior to the study and that only 3.7% of those attacked They asked for institutional help.
Efe requested an interview with the official Federation of Cuban Women (FMC) and for the moment has not received a response.
INCREASE IN THE FACE OF GREATER COMPLAINT
“In the case of Cuba, there is an increase in public complaints and visibility of cases, especially on the internet and social networks,” the deputy regional director of UN Women for the Americas and the Caribbean, Cecilia, told Efe via email. Germany.
The head of UN Women stressed, however, that “all femicides, regardless of their number,” are “alarming.”
She added that UN Women has been working together for more than a decade with government institutions and Cuban organizations, including the FMC, despite not having offices in the country.
Alemany pointed out that the increased visibility of the cases promotes “sensitization in public opinion, the mobilization of civil society and the adoption of specific laws to prevent and punish them.”
In her opinion, among the factors of sexist violence are “the prevalence of gender stereotypes”, as well as “traditional social norms that are at the base of inequities, discrimination and violence”.
ANOTHER PHENOMENON: THE DISAPPEARANCES
Yo Sí Te Creo en Cuba identifies a new phenomenon on the island that is directly related to the maximum expression of sexist violence: the disappearance of women and girls.
“Many lead to sexual and other femicides,” commented the activists, who also warn about the late reaction of relatives when denouncing.
The country does not have the notification system for missing children known in the world as the Amber Alert, an issue that Yo Sí Te Creo in Cuba describes as a “deficiency” of its own work.
“The families of the victims usually behave in a withdrawn and silent way due to the heavy loss they suffer and the many problems to solve, especially when the victim leaves behind minor children,” according to the group interviewed by Efe.
Many minors are left in the care of their grandparents, who sometimes “do not have the strength or the resources to face care.”
Yo Sí Te Creo en Cuba denounces this “precarious situation” and underlines “the need for specific support for families affected by femicides.”
Another issue shared with Efe is the fact that the families of the victims “have not organized themselves to solve common problems, or try to influence mechanisms for justice and reparation, not only for the victims but also for their children.”
For this reason, the independent platforms demand a law against gender violence and criticize the Government for not classifying femicide as a crime in the new Penal Code, approved last May, despite the fact that it contemplates gender-based violence.
The representative of UN Women, for her part, does not see this issue as decisive. “Its existence will not necessarily imply a decline in gender-based violence, the causes of which are rooted in patriarchal culture,” she said.
In her opinion, “in addition to the laws, there should also be communication campaigns, education at all levels, work in the communities.”
Alemany noted that other state initiatives, such as the National Program for the Advancement of Women and the Comprehensive Strategy for the Prevention and Care of Gender Violence and Violence in the Family, “contemplate actions to move towards specific legislation in Cuba.” .
UN Women, she added, collaborates in “strengthening the capacities of key sectors such as the legal sector, information gathering, intersectoral articulation and the construction of an integrated and comprehensive system of care for victims.”
An example in this area, she highlighted, is the Comprehensive Strategy for the prevention and care of gender-based violence and violence in the family setting, approved last year with the support of the United Nations Population Fund.