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Domestic Violence Brought to Light in Cuba
The debate that has been taking place lately within Cuban society has had a new and unusual expression. An issue barely discussed in the national scenario was brought to the public attention through a moving documentary

A couple of weeks ago, Cuban producer Lissette Vila showed, to a crowded theater, the emotional and spine-chilling documentary La deseada justicia (The desired justice) to bring the tragic topic of domestic violence to light.

Seven women, victims of bloody and constant domestic violence at the hands of their husbands, tell the stories of their lives.
The documentary was shown at Havanas Hubert de Blanck theater, which with its usual comfort "and set designed for La cacatúa verde (The green cockatoo), directed by Luis Brunet" welcomed the Oscar Romero Group for Reflection and Solidarity, an organization of the Cuban civil society that was key in the making of this documentary. The group has also been instrumental in the rescuing of women from domestic violence.

Vilas film is a brave denouncement of a phenomenon that despite being silenced continues to exist in Cuban society. Its images clearly revealed the different faces of domestic violence; a problem that sometimes erupts in front of everybodys eyes and which can manifest itself in all social strata, from the humblest and poorest to those where intellectual thought prevails. While most of the victims of domestic violence are women, there are no differences of race or age that limit the occurrence of this type of conflict within the population.

Among the main values of this production is the emphasis made on the need to educate the victims of domestic violence so that they can put an end to it and rescue their dignity. To help them draw up strategies that allow them to have better interpersonal relations and to find professional aid in the cases that need it become essential weapons to eradicate this problem.

That victims can break away from violence and survive is the main message of this documentary. The changes and transformations that its protagonists were able to gave bring to their situations gave a new sense to their lives. Following the projection, the seven women stood up from the public, as moved as the rest of the audience but self-assured after having saved themselves.

Specialists such as Isabel Moya, director of the magazine Mujeres, and Ivón Valdés, from the Cuban Center for Psychological and Sociological Research, participated in a short and heartfelt exchange of ideas and experiences proposed by the producer. During the debate, several testimonies, as brave and as moving as those showed in the documentary, emerged from the public.

Participants also asked for the documentary to be shown not only in workshops and discussions but in other media outlets and stages such as on TV and the upcoming New Latin America Film Festival, so that its message could reach all corners of Cuban society.

Lissette Vila Reflects on the Issue: "Domestic violence has nothing to do with a given political, social or ideological system because it exists within peoples private universe," said Lissette. "In any case, I think it is a privilege to have a social system like that of Cuba."

Regarding her motivations, she said "I had a commitment as a Cuban, thats what moved me. I mean, I had brought to light what happens to Latin American women and women in other parts of the world, and I had a debt, I felt guilty for not doing the same for Cuban women."

Villa paid acknowledgment to the protagonists this documentary. "What women! They have reconciled themselves with life. They have assumed all they have suffered; they have reverted the suffering, and thats also the essence of the project: that they do not feel frustrated, without paths, without faces, without ideas."

The artist offered a piercing analysis on the issue of domestic violence. "It has to do with cultural tradition. And when I say cultural tradition I mean also, of course, the social aspect in it. Then theres the relationship of power in the private world, in the private space, which usually favors men. Men are part of this tangle of violence, because they too have been subdued, led to being supporters, providers, to play a role within the family that sometimes they cannot meet. They were also victims of violence when they were kids; they saw the abuses suffered by their mothers and grandmothers.

"Look, violence is a cycle; there is no doubt about it. Moreover, it is invisible, you cannot sense it. When physical violence erupts, there is a lot that has happened before that has gone unnoticed. When you are hit it means you had already been destroyed."

"Domestic violence has nothing to do with alcoholism either. It is a different situation, one of absurd and false role of leadership that is completely stereotyped. It all results in a state of inequality, of lack of esteem; thats why I always deal with violence starting from a culture of harmony and peace. The women presented in the documentary are no longer victims, they are survivors, and they are there to give their testimonies."

There is no right to mistreat a woman. No human being deserves that. To remain silent favors these actions, described as one of the most disgraceful violations against women. To denounce and reveal the abuse when it happens is the beginning of a battle that can be won. In this sense, it is encouraging that a documentary such as The desired justice had found producers and a space to reflect.

(Juventud Rebelde)

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