Upon a call by local civil-society organizations, over a thousand people gathered together last May 12-13 in Villa Maria City (Cordoba province) to demand an end to white salve traffic.
They issued a strong declaration indicating that the Ministry of Justice mechanism to combat traffic and assist victims is far from effective, as it is made up of officials who have been collaborating with traffic networks and/or performing very poorly.
The document also voices concern over the fact that most victimizers have managed to go unpunished. Out of 2,000 cases, only 20 victimizers have been prosecuted, and no civil servant has ever been condemned.
Mercedes Assorati, general coordinator of El Otro Foundation’s Program against White Slave Traffic, told SEMlac that such a situation clearly shows that the State is not dealing with highly profitable organized crime in an appropriate manner.
“Local authorities ignore our realities. We kindly ask them to visit our communities, talk to us, and become familiar with our economic and social problems,” said Andrea Campos, a representative of the Regional Federation of Ashaninka, Nomatsiguenga and Kakinte Women (FREMANK).
Over 50 women leaders, wearing typical dresses and accompanied by their children, arrived in Lima from the central jungle to participate in a Public Hearing on the Current Situation of Indigenous Women, last April 29, at the Congress Building.
They represented historically excluded population groups, explained why the land is so vital to them, and demanded the immediate implementation of national and international labor standards.
On December 2, 1993, the Peruvian Congress signed and ratified ILO Agreement N° 169, which promotes respect for and participation by indigenous communities in national economic, social, political and cultural life.
Susana Roque is a 35-year-old lawyer. She would very much like to have a baby, but she has decided to give priority to her doctoral course.
Her husband and her mother-in-law have told her on numerous occasions that they will always be there to help her out.
"He already got his PhD. It is my turn now," she stressed.
Most Cuban women professionals think very much like her. The Global Fertility Rate (GFR) on the island stood at 1.7 children per woman in 2009, but the population replacement rate (one daughter per woman, at least) has been extremely low in the last 30 years.
Women need to have their rights, conflicts, experiences and life stories fully revealed, regardless of their actual situation (ordinary women, victims of gender violence, company managers, decision-makers in urban or rural areas, and the like).
Participants in the 8th International Meeting on Women in the 21st Century, which was recently held in the Cuban capital, strongly favored the idea of removing cultural traditions that associate women with second-class citizens, providing them with further training, launching new awareness-raising campaigns, and promoting successful experiences.
Organized by the University of Havana Women's Chair and the Federation of Cuban Women, the event was attended by experts of Cuba, Spain, the United States, Colombia, Guatemala, and Chile.
"Most of the papers to be presented here highlight the need to make problems affecting women visible and come up with effective solutions," said Chair president Norma Vasallo at the opening ceremony.
Erlinda Yero is the milkmaid in Pozo Cuadrado, a village nine kilometers away from Bayamo, the capital city in the eastern province of Granma.
Every day, she is the first one to get up and switch on the kitchen light to make coffee in the entire neighborhood. She then walks 1.5 kilometers to get to the cattle-raising farm where she works.
There are 67 buffalo cows and a stud awaiting her. After she milks the cows, she takes them all to graze under the sun, morning and afternoon. She calls them by their names: Pancho, the stud; Little One, Conga, Marisol, and the like. They are docile, but hate strangers.
As the farm is surrounded by rice growing fields, she has to keep an eye on them because they love not only the plants, but also the water that helps them cool down.
Mariela Castro, director of the National Sex Education Center (CENESEX), indicated that the defense of free sexual orientation and gender identity by people, groups and social networks has made it possible to cover the entire country this month, when the 4th Cuban Meeting against Homophobia is being held.
"We organize activities all year round, but they are given a high profile only in May," she said at a press conference.
"The main ceremonies will take place in the eastern province of Santiago de Cuba this year," she announced.
"These issues have been discussed on radio and TV shows, as well as in websites and blogs," she added.
There has been a social trend to separate, segregate and reject "strange" or "different" people in Cuba.
It is a fact that non-heterosexual people have often been made fun of, excluded and persecuted.
"We do not need to change words, but meanings," said Mariela Castro, director of the National Sex Education Center (CENESEX).
She delivered a lecture along these lines at a panel (Humanity Means Diversity) last May 4, at the Dulce M. Loynaz Cultural Center in Havana.
Local TV shows are not helping teenage boys and girls identify daily conflicts and take responsible sexual behavior.
Most programs, now on the air, are foreign series and soap operas that have little or nothing to do with Cuban cultural and social realities.
Yanabel Naranjo is an eighth-grade student who talked about these issues with SEMlac.
"We watch these shows, but find no answers to our questions. I had for years thought that I shouldn't touch and explore my body. When I saw Puberty (cartoons), I found that such a thing was normal," Naranjo indicated.
The 4th Cuban Meeting against Homophobia will be held next month all over the country.
Prior to the event, there have been sexual diversity talks and actions. Promoted mainly by the National Sex Education Center (CENESEX), they have involved lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transsexuals and many other groups.
A large number of organizations and institutions will implement activities in May, seeking to further educate families and society at large, and promote respect for different sexual orientations and gender identity rights under equity and justice.
The main ceremony on the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia (May 17) will take place in the eastern province of Santiago de Cuba. Such a day was first observed on the island in 2008.
Love can end up in violence. Some signs of such a transition are visible; many others go unnoticed.
This is the case of Dalia Martínez, a 40-year-old professional living in Havana. "I could never imagine I would experience grief," she said.
She has a 12-year-old daughter whose father is still her husband and became her boyfriend when she was 18.
After 20 years of an apparently strong marriage, Martínez has had to take her case to court because her husband does not want to get divorced. "He has moved from passive opposition to threat and blackmail," she added.