In the Dominican Republic there is deep-rooted machismo and women are assigned a role of submission and dependence. Impunity surrounds these crimes and according to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), in 2022 only 16% of feminicide cases were brought to justice and only 5% of the perpetrators were convicted.
Mariela Pérez Valenzuela
Week after week the local press reports heartbreaking stories of gender-based violence.
The high figure puts the authorities in check as they face one of their main challenges in the social order.
It is not that the current or previous governments were indifferent to these unfortunate events, accompanied by the orphaning of children and family trauma. The numbers corroborate that current public policies are insufficient to stop homicides against women in the domestic or work environment.
The Dominican Republic, which shares the Caribbean island of Hispaniola with Haiti, has a population of 11,270,827. Men account for about 52 per cent of the population and the rest are women.
To understand why so many women are murdered in this country, it is necessary to analyse, more than the facts themselves, the causes of a worrying phenomenon for society, the government, and above all for the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and organisations defending gender equality.
One of the indicators that shed light on the roots of the excessive violence is, according to these sources, to be found in the socio-economic situation of the population.
The country has one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America and the Caribbean in the last decade, driven by services. Gross domestic product rebounded (up 4.9 per cent on average) after the Covid-19 pandemic, as tourism, its main source of income, boomed.
However, not all social sectors are progressing equally or even improving their living conditions.
The Monetary Poverty bulletin issued in 2022 by the Ministry of Economy, Planning and Development highlighted that the percentage of women in this condition is 29.37%, four points higher than men, 25.84%, which results in them being considered inferior social figures. This is evidenced by unjustified wage gaps, occupational segmentation into lower paid activities, short working lives and higher unemployment.
Reality shows that the male part of Dominican society does not see their female counterparts as equals, which they also abuse in the home. Not infrequently they order and the women obey.
The Life Without Violence Foundation urged the current government to review public policies and implement campaigns that promote respectful masculinity and emphasise the values of equality and rights from childhood.
A study by the Global Institution for Democracy and Development shows that in 43.6% of the murders committed from 2016 to 2022, the victim was already separated from the perpetrator and had reported him or her to the authorities for harassment.
Analysts agree that rooting out the problem is no simple task. In addition to strengthening the justice system, it is essential that the state allocate more resources to prevent and address acts of force.
This includes the development of comprehensive care programmes for victims, awareness-raising and sensitisation campaigns, as well as strengthening the institutions in charge of ensuring equality and protection for this population group.
Life Without Violence and other organisations insist on the urgent approval of the draft organic law that creates the Integral System for the Prevention, Attention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women, which remains a debt owed by legislators.
The aforementioned bill, presented by the Executive to the National Congress at the end of last year, establishes the criminalisation of feminicide and punishes it with sentences ranging from 30 to 40 years, penalties that would be aggravated when the crime is committed against a girl or adolescent, over 65 years of age and with some type of disability.PL
(Translated by Cristina Popa – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org) – Photos: Pixabay