14ymedio, Havana, 18 November 2023 — Cuba’s official press revealed that, in the first half of 2023, seven women were murdered in the province of Matanzas. The data, published this Saturday by the Girón newspaper, breaks with officialdom’s usual silence on femicides in Cuba and offers details until now kept secret, such as the ages of the deceased – between 20 and 57 years old – and the causes of death: wounds caused by a knife, in most cases.
Girón’s article points out, citing a “preliminary statistical report,” that in 2022 the Provincial Legal Medicine Service recorded seven femicides; in 2021, four; and in 2020, three, “whose basic causes of death were strangulation, burns from flames and assault with a blunt object.”
So far this year, 75 women have been victims of murderous violence against women on the Island, according to 14ymedio ’s record – compared with the list of independent platforms. Of them, eight are from the province of Matanzas. These are Yainalis Pérez, Mercedes Vasallo, Anay Pérez, Yunisleve Fernández, Adela Verdecia, Ruselay Castillo, Osladys Núñez and Olaida Casanova, none of whose deaths were reported by the official press at the time.
Everything indicates, the media acknowledges, that “in the last year cases of murderous violence against women have increased or, at least, have become more visible.” However, and although it admits that there are “publications that cause chills” on the Internet, Girón does not attribute the visibility of the situation to the press and independent observatories, but to the official “women’s support networks.”
In the Penal Code there is no article or criminal type that defines the exercise of violence against women
“In the Penal Code there is no article or criminal type that defines the exercise of violence against women,” provincial prosecutor María Elena Govín, of the Department of Criminal Procedures, admitted, without hesitation. The absence of a legal tool against violence against women, denounced on numerous occasions by Cuban feminists, has found a deaf ear in the Government, which is why Govín admits that it is “a debt” of the authorities to Cuban women.
Yuleikis Hernández, Govín’s colleague in the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office, was quick to qualify the prosecutor’s observations to Girón: “We cannot speak of an excessive increase, at least in Matanzas,” he assured, despite the fact that both official and independent figures disprove that.
On the contrary, Hernández affirms that in “previous periods” the situation has been more serious and, although he did not give other details, he denounced the existence of a “sexist, possessive pattern” that is repeated on the Island, in addition to “threats.” and “injuries” that authorities must frequently deal with. Other women, he lamented, “do not report or seek help,” but rather “protect the aggressor and justify him.”
The newspaper cites the testimony of a doctor from Matanzas who asked not to reveal her name, the victim of an attempted attack by her partner on June 4, 2022. The man, also a doctor, who arrived home drunk at 5:30 in the morning – on the upper floor above his office – and slapped her several times and broke her glasses.
“I don’t know where I got the strength from and I managed to get him off of me. With one push he fell sitting on the couch and I was able to leave my house. Luckily, the door or the gate was not closed, because when we struggled he told me he had come to kill me. I ran out with only a sweater, without a bra, in very short shorts and without glasses, I am nearsighted,” the woman said.
Very serious cases of violence against women have been recorded in the province. Although not all of them died, there has been at least one “kidnapping” of a pregnant woman
The intervention of a neighbor, who hid her in her house, managed to prevent the worst. But her partner destroyed all her belongings, burned her clothes and started a fire to which the firefighters had come. Girón does not explain how the story ended or if the aggressor was legally prosecuted, but instead focuses on highlighting who should be asked for help in these cases: the official Federation of Cuban Women and its Violence Council.
Niurka La Osa Roldán, an official in Matanzas for this organization, also acknowledged that very serious cases of violence against women have been recorded in the province. Although not all of them died, there has been at least one “kidnapping” of a pregnant woman, whose mother asked the Police for help.
The death of Olaida Casanova, a resident of Cárdenas, was the most recent feminicide recorded in Matanzas by independent platforms. The woman was murdered by her partner on September 21. Murdered that same month was Osladys Núñez, 43, about whom the observatories were unable to gather more information.
Ruselay Castillo, 31 years old and resident of the central Matanzas town of Humberto Álvarez, was murdered by her partner. Castillo, a housewife and native of the town of Santa Marta, was the mother of two teenagers. The first of the eight women murdered this year in Matanzas, Yailanis Pérez, was 36 years old and she was found dead at the end of January, after being reported missing for several days.
The article published this Saturday by Girón constitutes an exception. Despite multiple demands, Cuban authorities continue to keep secret the official figures of deaths due to violence against women on the Island.
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