Local TV shows have so far failed to come up with an effective approach to sexuality in children and adolescents, according to some experts.
This situation is influenced by many factors, including production and programming policies, and artist views.
"Both producers and directors often convey their own personal messages (experiences and values), which are not always in line with the actual needs of children and youngsters," said Elsa Carrasco, a speaker at a meeting last July 14.
Organized on a monthly basis by the National Association of Cuban Artists and Writers (UNEAC) and the Oscar A. Romero Reflection and Solidarity Group (OAR), the event was attended by critics, artists and general public.
The Cuban Network on Gender and Public Health (RCGSC), which was established under the umbrella of the Latin American Association of Public Health (ALAMES) and the National School of Public Health (ENSAP), strongly favors the application of the gender approach to healthcare policies and programs.
The statement was made at a local workshop held last July 11 at the headquarters of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in Havana.
The Network had been set up at a Meeting on Gender and Health parallel to the 8th ALAMES Congress in 2000. "Cuba has fully endorsed PAHO and WHO policies and action plans, but they have not always been fully explored," said Leticia Artiles, a gender/health expert and former Network coordinator.
Workshop participants highlighted the need to conduct further health-related studies applying the gender approach.
The number of women’s murders has grown by 40 percent in the last five years, as a result of widespread violence in the country.
Most of these women were raped by policemen, criminals and even the military before they got killed.
Police reports indicated that 63 percent of these victims were tortured and that their mutilated or dismembered bodies were thrown in public areas, including roads and ways.
Soraya Vázquez, a legal advisor to the Women’s Institute in the Federal District, told SEMlac that this information contrasts sharply with statistical data suggesting that local women were being killed only by their sexual partners.
The local government’s decision to censor some reggaeton themes has sparked controversy all over the country.
It all began earlier this month, when women’s organizations like the Council for Abused Women and the Foundation for a Violence-Free Society asked the Public Shows Commission to discourage the broadcast of reggaeton songs conveying negative messages to children and teenagers.
Shortly after the request was made, the Commission banned 22 songs by five different bands, arguing that they go against moral and family values, are degrading to women, or encourage violence and drug abuse.
The move seems excessive to some leaders of women’s movements and to the musicians themselves, including Puerto Ricans like Calle 13, Tego Calderón and Ñejo, and Dominicans like Pablo Piddy and El Poeta Callejero (The Street Poet).
The United Nations Population Fund decided to focus on girls, women and youngsters on the occasion of the World Population Day last July 11.
The world population is expected to reach seven billion this year. Aware of the fact that the decisions that are made today will have quite an impact on the health of the planet tomorrow, the Fund is seeking to promote mass participation and solidarity around the globe.
"The youth of today is changing society and helping build a better future for all," said UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin.
There are over 1.5 billion people aged 10 to 24 living in the world. This is the highest number of youngsters in history, and most of them reside in developing countries.
The documentary film Páginas de la educación en Cuba (Cuban education pages), which was written and directed by Ernesto A. Vázquez, has just been given the Elena Gil Iberian-American Ethics Award by the Félix Varela Center.
The jury made its decision in recognition of Vázquez ethical approach to education in Cuba during the 18th and 19th centuries.
The five-episode film, which has not been premiered on the island yet, features interviews with outstanding scholars, dramatizations, and archive images.
"Vázquez work team has developed an impeccable audiovisual material, including photography, sound mixing, editing and post-production," a judge said.
Changes in sexuality over the last few decades have had quite an impact on demographic indicators like fertility.
Heydi Cárdenas, a 37-year-old nurse living in Havana, fully agrees with such a statement.
"My mother often told me that she had made a terrible mistake when she got married at 18 and had four children in a row. She confessed once that all she wanted was to get rid of her grandparents' control. I decided I would not make the same mistake," Cárdenas said.
"I had several boyfriends, but I really started living together with one of them when I was 28," she added.
Asela Díaz (41) works at an art gallery. She loves plastic arts so much that she has conducted in-depth research into Cuban painters in different periods. She has had to focus lately on caring for her mother, however. She had a stroke several years ago and has been in bed ever since.
"People can be really cruel sometimes. A friend of mine told me once that I look after my mother in such a way that she will never die," she recalled.
"I do my best to live a normal life: go for a drink with my friends and visit an exhibition whenever I find somebody to take care of my mother," she added.
"I occasionally get depressed or suffer from high blood pressure. My only brother left Cuba for good, so he can only send me some money once in a while," she stressed.
"The local society needs to conduct an in-depth, multidisciplinary study over racial identity and cultural paradigms," said Rodrigo Espina, an anthropologist working for the Juan Marinello Cuban Cultural Research Institute.
Speaking at an International Seminar on Afro-descendant People in the Americas , which was held last June 13- 17 in Havana under the auspices of the United Nations, he indicated that some manifestations of racial discrimination are still being seen on the island.
The 1959 revolution put an end to all forms of inequality based on race and provided all citizens with free access to education, healthcare, and employment.
"But five decades of socialism have not been enough to really change cultural traditions that are five centuries old," stressed Norma Guillard, a local psychologist.
Lizette Vila's documentary film El tiempo de la cosecha (Harvest Time) has just been premiered.
Based on life experiences of six Cuban men, it is a call to harmony, love, and peaceful coexistence.
They include a dentist, a Lutheran minister, an HIV/AIDS activist, a security guard, an actor, and a faceless man.
"Our idea was to look at the other side of the coin from a feminist perspective," Vila said. She is the manager of the project Palomas (Dove) defending sexual diversity, gender equality, and a culture of peace.