14ymedio, Havana, 25 October 2017 – On November 25, Cienfuegos will be the first Cuban city to open a legal counseling center on gender violence. The initiative is due to the National Union of Jurists of Cuba, with the support of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
Igneris Ramirez, one of the lawyers in charge of the new entity, told 14ymedio that the essence of this body will be to “provide guidance, assistance and protection to victims” and especially “women who are victims of violence in all its manifestations.”
The United Nations ratified the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women in 1993. At that time it was defined as “any act of violence based on belonging to the female sex that has or may result in physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering.”
Ramirez added that the operation of the new center intends to deal with gender-based violence by dealing with all its actors, both victims and affected relatives and “the victimizer himself” who has the will to correct his violent acts.
The group of specialists who make up the board consists of 15 jurists, including prosecutors, lawyers and judges, as well as a representation of the Provincial Directorate of Justice, along with five doctors including medical forensic doctors, psychiatrists and psychologists.
They maintain that, if successful, this pilot test can be extended to the whole country.
The site will be located in the Social House of the Union of Jurists in the city of Cienfuegos, at 56th Avenue between 33 and 31st Streets. It is creating spaces to attend to the complainants and train the specialists in postgraduate workshops to give jurists “procedural tools.”
The news about the commissioning of this center occurs when the murder of Leidy Maura Pacheco, an 18-year-old girl who was kidnapped, raped and murdered on 26 September, fills the official press.
Although public statistics on gender-based violence are difficult to access, in addition to being few, incomplete and confusing, Cuba’s Report on Combating Trafficking in Persons and Related Crimes of the past year reveals that in 2015 there were 2,174 child victims of alleged incidents of sexual abuse, of which 333 were rapes.
At present, neither the Cuban Criminal Code nor the Family Code criminalize domestic or intra-family violence, a pending task for the island’s jurists, as we can see that in Latin America at least 14 countries have defined the crime of femicide.
The official Federation of Cuban Women (FMC) will offer support to the new entity. The FMC is in charge of 174 Women and Family Counseling Houses throughout the country, although none provide shelter to victims who have made complaints or who have had to leave their homes.