Survey Describes Physical Abuse Women Endure in Cuba

Gender-based violence in Cuba, from talking to action

HAVANA, Feb. 27th (IPS Cuba) Slaps, beatings, being pushed, hair pulled or having objects being thrown with the intention of causing pain, are all displays of the physical violence that many women describe in their relationships, according to the recently released National Gender Equality Survey (ENIG-2016).

Drafted by the Women’s Studies Center (CEM), alongside the Population and Development Studies Center, and published recently by Cuba’s Office of Statistics (ONEI), the survey confirmed that physical violence experienced by women in relationships is a great deal inferior to the psychological abuse they endure.

The toughest abuse to swallow

The 2016 study’s results indicate that 22.6% of women in Cuba aged between 15-74 years old have experienced abuse, as they were victims of some form of violence “at some point in their lives”.

Out of these, 69.8% said that they were hit or beaten by their partner in the last 12 months, and 60.6% had “been pushed or pulled by the hair” by their partner and 43.1% said that “they had things thrown at them with the intention of hurting her.”

The survey asked questions about the kind of violence women experience, and these kinds of specific questions are unusual in Cuba since it hasn’t been of official concern.

The survey also revealed that of the women acknowledging abuse, 23.5% confessed that they had been kicked or dragged along the ground and 20.6% had been suffocated or deliberately burned.

The ENIG-2016 survey confirmed that 51.9% of the Cuban population aged between 15-74 years old (50.2% of women and 53.7% of men) believe that gender-related violence is low in the country, while 30% said they believe it is very high.

It seems that women (32.8%) have a greater understanding about the problem than men (27.1%), as they are the ones who say it is high.

The survey reveals that violence figured among the many different reasons why people surveyed ended their relationship with their former partner. In this part of the survey, there were more women than men, which indicates that they are the ones who experience these kinds of situations more, on the whole.

The fact that they decided to end the relationship because of abuse is attributed to a growing awareness and active quest for a solution to this social problem.

On the contrary, only 3.7% of female victims of violence in a relationship have sought help from an institution or service.

Violence isn’t recognized by most Cubans to be one of the top three problems of men and women in today’s Cuba.

10.5% of people surveyed identified it as a problem for women, and women in Cuba’s eastern provinces were the ones who stated this the most, compared to other regions in the country.

In spite of a woman being at risk of experiencing any kind of abuse from their partner at any age, data collected by the survey revealed that there was greater recognition of this social problem among younger women and up until 54 years old.

And then there was light…

The study provides the first national statistics since 1989 and offers a scientific view of the problem of gender-related violence, thanks to it being a collaborative effort between the Women’s Studies Center of the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC) and the state statistics office ONEI, and with support from the UN Women and the UN Population Fund.

The ENIG-2016 survey involved a questionnaire about living arrangements and a personal questionnaire, with close-ended questions, which were applied by survey takers who had been trained for this end, with a face-to-face interview of 19,189 permanent residents aged between 15-74 years old, randomly selected from 14,099 households.

One of the study’s objectives was to shed some light on the ideas, opinions, prejudice and stereotypes that the Cuban population has on gender equality-related issues; identifying progress in gender equality in Cuba and the gender asymmetries that continue to exist.

It also set out to offer a series of recommendations for public policy, especially for education, culture and communications media, so as to contribute towards breaking down existing stereotypes and prejudice in Cuban society.