On the eve of International Women’s Day, the International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality) launches the campaign #CubanasLibresYA (“Cuban Women Free Now”), which seeks to illustrate the human rights situation of women in Cuba, in particular of those who serve arbitrary and unjust prison sentences at the hands of the Cuban State as a result of their political activism in favor of human rights on the island.
The campaign will run during the first half of the year and will seek to tell the stories of 10 female political prisoners of the Cuban State who are currently either serving their sentences across the prisons of Cuba, are victims of house arrest, or are recently released but served as political prisoners as a result of their activism.
“Although repression against human rights defenders, journalists, and other political activists is part of the reality of Cuba, its distinct impact on women is not discussed enough, despite the fact that the number of arbitrary detentions of women either matches or in some cases exceeds that of men,” stated Race and Equality’s Senior Legal Program Officer, Christina Fetterhoff.
Similarly, Fetterhoff explained that there are different levels of violence suffered by women in detention. There is a significant gap in terms of gender parity, equality, inclusion, and acknowledgement of rights, that impacts a woman’s social circle when she is detained. “The reality of Cuban women is very chilling; their full enjoyment of economic, social, and political rights is very limited, so when a woman head of household is imprisoned, not only does it have an obvious social impact, but also a disproportionate impact on the life of the family and the community that depends on that woman.”
The campaign also seeks to place on the public and international agenda the lack of information that exists on the state of female political prisoners and of the systematic rights violations carried out inside Cuban prisons. “We know from conversations with former political prisoners and with families of those still in prison that the conditions are inhumane. They lack access to female hygiene products, basic medical attention, and safe conditions to sleep. They also are impeded from making phone calls or having visits from family members on many occasions. There is no verified information about what goes on in prison with these women, as no international organization has been allowed access to monitor their conditions. Cases similar to that of Xiomara Cruz are very likely happening in Cuban prisons today,” said Fetterhoff.
The launch of the campaign #CubanasLibresYA on March 6 will commemorate International Women’s Day through posts on Race and Equality social media networks. The campaign will open with the story of Martha Sanchez one of the female political prisoners belonging to the Ladies in White.
Race and Equality invites you to amplify the message to bring to light the repression against human rights defenders who are specifically targeted for their political beliefs, and more specifically to showcase the human rights situation of women victims of male chauvinist standards that persist in the country.