Associating gender violence only with actions against women can help conceal other forms of abuse.
Social psychologists Mareelen Díaz and Yohanka Valdés raised this issue at a Meeting on Family, Gender and Equity held last September 16, at the National Psychological and Sociological Research Center (CIPS) in Havana.
The event was sponsored by the Oscar A. Romero (OAR) Reflection Group, a Christian organization that has been fighting violence and promoting a culture of peace for over 25 years.
"The idea has been to identify acts of gender inequality and violence under local conditions," Valdés indicated.
Men for Diversity (MxD), a group that has been defending the rights of people of all sexual orientations in Cuba, has asked local authorities to review and pass the new Family Code without further delay.
The bill in question includes several amendments to the Code that has been in force since 1975 and recommends legal recognition of same-sex unions.
A Ministry of Justice report recently indicated that the date for such a review by parliament has not been finalized.
A representative of MxD said that the Federation of Cuban Women, which has been promoting the bill along with the National Association of Cuban Jurists, has already examined, adopted and submitted the bill to the Ministry of Justice, which is expected to present the final version to parliament.
While just a few people on the island publicly admit being racist, social prejudices and discriminatory attitudes continue to be the rule these days.
Jokes and proverbs are still being used to discriminate against the so-called people of color.
All these issues were raised and carefully reviewed at a Meeting on Science, Race and Society, which was held last September 7 at the Dulce M. Loynaz Cultural Center in Havana.
"When you cannot directly make somebody feel inferior, you crack a joke about that person," said Zuleika Romay, director of the Cuban Book Institute and an experienced communication expert.
Audiovisual language can provide an effective means to raise public awareness of gender equity.
The Cuba-based Latin American Network on Masculinity has been using over 70 documentary films and videos for this purpose and launched a multimedia (material) along these lines last July.
Dayron Oliva, a history professor at the College of Art who was involved in the multimedia development, said that the idea was to sensitize young people to gender issues and to help remove inequity and violence.
General Network coordinator Julio C. González strongly favors the idea of using videos and the Internet to disseminate gender information.
Eva González, a Spanish actress who has been living in Cuba for over 18 years, has just staged Salome, a play based on Oscar Wilde's literary piece, which deals with a woman's conflicts, doubts and emotions. "It is really thought-provoking," she said. "It is about love and life," she added.
"While Salome is mythical and timeless, Candela -another character she plays- is a devoted, contradictory, transparent, sentimental woman of her time," she indicated.
"I identify with Candela because I have also experienced loneliness and maladjustment myself," she stressed.
"This character has taught me that we should be neither too unyielding nor too tolerant. We should always try to find the right balance between these two attitudes," she told SEMlac.
Good information and high self-esteem are indispensable for the LGBT community to deal with social rejection and discrimination on the island.
A research work that was recently conducted in the central province of Cienfuegos, 250 kilometers east of Havana, has so corroborated.
In his master's on sexual diversity in Cienfuegos, psychologist Alain Darcout indicated that both heterosexual and non-heterosexual people have misconceptions about sexual diversity and gender identities.
Carried out in several municipalities of the province between September 2010 and March 2011, the research work included a survey to over 50 people (20 heterosexual teenagers, youngsters and adults of both sexes, and 30 lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transvestites).
There is an urgent need to build relations based on respect, love and understanding between young people and senior citizens on the island.
Supported by UNFPA, a local project along these lines is being implemented in the central province of Cienfuegos, 250 kilometers away from Havana.
"Entitled Promoting health and good intergenerational relations, it is intended for all population groups, including children, teenagers, adults, and older people," said its manager Graciela Martín.
"Covering several districts (Cienfuegos, Cruces, Rodas, and Cumanayagua), the initiative makes it possible to disseminate relevant information and implement training actions," she added.
Gender violence is no longer being seen as a taboo subject on the island. It is even being addressed by the media, but experience shows that related myths and prejudices remain.
There are still some oft-repeated phrases like "she likes to be given some beating once in a while," "she really deserved it", and "nobody should butt in between husband and wife." All of them approach violence as something private and make it difficult to prevent further harm and provide victims with much-needed support.
"I have witnessed three violent arguments between men and women on the beach in the last couple of months," said Berta Vázquez, a resident in Havana.
"And police got involved only in one case. I heard a man say that things usually end up this way after a lot of drinking," she recalled.
Luis O. Abascal, an engineer at an electricity company in the eastern province of Granma , was recently expelled from work simply because he had Catherine Hood's Sexual Guide for the 21st Century in his office laptop.
The news was published last July 25 by Francisco Rodríguez, editor-in-chief of Trabajadores weekly newspaper.
Produced in 2006, the eight-episode series on human sexuality includes expert opinions and graphic images.
The press article indicated that a disciplinary committee had made the decision based on the content of the material. "It is not pornographic, but it certainly goes against social interests and good manners," said the committee chairman.
Understanding the impact of social discrimination against men having sex with men (MSM) can help formulate effective STI and HIV/AIDS prevention strategies.
Amarilys Santos is a 17-year-old intermediate-level student living in Rodas, a municipality in the central province of Cienfuegos.
"I am really worried. I had a rapid HIV/AIDS test performed some time ago and the result was negative. But my ex-boyfriend was HIV-positive diagnosed, so I had another test done," she said.
She had been going out with this young man for three years and was only recently informed that he had been practicing transitional sex with other men and that she was pregnant.