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Brutality and impunity in gender violence

Between 1st April and 13th November of this year in the Dominican Republic, between, 40 women, including six minors, lost their lives at the hands of their partners. Covid-19 and a macho society exacerbate the problem.

 

Edilberto F. Méndez Amador

 

Likewise, in the first 46 days of the restrictions, the hardest time of the quarantine, that is, between mid-March and early May, women made 3,353 com

plaints of gender-based violence through Life Line and the Units of Comprehensive Attention to Gender Violence of the Attorney General’s Office.

And those complaints are in addition to 1,181 requests for protection orders and 1,142 for arrest, frightening figures in the 21st century.

According to the press, in the same period, the shelters for women at risk of violence managed by the Ministry of Women received 112 women and their 217 children under 13 years of age, 140 of whom were boys and 77 of them girls.

The helpline, linked to the 911 help and protection system, answered an average of 22 calls a day.

However, it was thought that the number of deaths would decrease due to the gradual exit from the lockdown made necessary by the disease. The opposite occurred because from 1st October to 13th November, the deaths of thirteen women increased the lethal statistics.

These deaths had dramatic circumstances, such as the case of Rosmery Valenzuela, whose head was beaten by her attacker with a bat to which he added nails to make it even more effective in its deadly purpose.

Another difficult case to understand was the murder of Leyda Vicente Sánchez. For the aggressor, who was killed in a police operation, it was not enough to kill his wife, but he also took it out on her parents and his brother-in-law, in addition to wounding his sister.

These women almost always leave orphaned children, if they do not die with her, after which the murderer often takes his own life or runs away.

The community and the police are generally witnesses to violent actions prior to the final tragedy; however, chauvinistic and religious traditions oblige women to remain silent, on pain of being rejected by their family and society.

The government and its strategies

On 22nd September, the Dominican President, Luis Abinader, announced a series of measures that, together with those approved by the Council of Ministers, make up a plan to combat gender violence in the country.

On that occasion, the head of state declared that the eradication of violence against women was a priority in the country.

In addition, he said that he will submit to the National Congress a comprehensive organic law project for prevention, attention, persecution, punishment and reparation for the eradication of violence against women.

Moreover, he specified that the initiative aims to protect and guarantee the effective enjoyment of the right of women to a life free of violence and to establish the Comprehensive System against that evil.

He also announced the creation of a specialised police force to respond to cases of gender violence quickly and in a timely manner, as well as the use of electronic bracelets by aggressors that alert the authorities when they approach their victims.

Although this country is making efforts and carrying out important initiatives to eliminate the aforementioned abuses, the reality is that the evil continues and according to the United Nations System in the territory, it constitutes one of the main violations of human rights.

The Experimental Survey on the Situation of Women, prepared in 2018 by the National Statistics Office, the Inter-American Development Bank and the Ministry of Women, found that 68.8% of Dominican women over 15 years of age had experienced some kind of violence.

Meanwhile, two out of every five women in the same age range had been victims of sexist violence and 41.8 % had suffered violence at the hands of their partners or ex-partners. (PL)

(Translated by Hannah Phelvin – Email: hphelvin@gmail.com) – Photos: Pixabay

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