Of Danger and Other Miseries / Miguel Iturria Savón

Weeks ago, in the municipality of Cotorro, southeast of Havana, dozens of photos of girls engaging in sexual acts with men and with each other were leaked by means of compact disks, flash memory, cell phones and digital cameras. Although some of the girls surprised the “curious” by their irreproachable prior behavior, the most questionable part of this story lies not in the exercise of sexual self-determination of such persons, but in the unscrupulous person who put the images of these practices into the public domain.

This, in itself, converted the girls into victims of the crime of sexual outrage, perhaps because those involved did not give consent to the release of the images, which damages rights inherent in personality, privacy and self-image, although we know that the right to one’s own image — a part of the right to privacy — is violated in many places.

The photos published not only converted the girls into victims of their acts, it affected boyfriends, relatives, neighbors and others. One of the girls, aged 17, was convicted of dangerousness, on the charge of the presumed practice of prostitution. The trial was conducted with open doors, instead of being held in private as appropriate to the sensitivity of the matter.

The most unusual part of the hearing was that they took the photos — debated publicly in the courtroom — as evidence, something unnecessary as there was no denial of the practice of prostitution.

To make matters worse, the girl was subjected to a thorough interrogation, very indiscreet of course, about the intimate details of her practices, which reminded me of the witch hunts of the Inquisition. I never saw, with my own eyes, anyone so humiliated.

As if it were nothing, the girl was sentenced to four years in a specialized center for work or study, the maximum sentence for the crime of dangerousness. I have heard that these centers are nothing more than prisons.

I do not know the girl but I am sure that right now, without counting upcoming sanctions, she has more than paid the consequences of her reckless immaturity. She is a victim of the person who devoured her honor. I went to her parents, who were present at the trial, to express my regret for what awaits them. What will become of her in prison with this kind of help?

Translated by ricote