Women of the Dominican Republic
Although there have been advances on the legislative and policy front regarding women, many of the reforms exist only on paper. In fact, violence against women is actually increasing, says Tian Spain.
The Dominican Republic has made the transition from an agro-industrial economy to a service economy in the last few decades. Despite the economic growth that has occurred overall, these changes have not been reflected in improving women’s access to resources. Violence against women has increased, as has femicide, and legislation introduced has proved ineffectual. Even though there is a National Plan of Gender Equality (PLANEG 2007-2017) this has not been implemented due to the lack of necessary budget allocations in each institution. The Ministry of Women’s Affairs has the second smallest budget in public administration and the Women’s Advocate Office does not even have its own budget.
Despite the Law against Domestic Violence being in force for 15 years, violence against women and girls continues to rise. No government has allocated the necessary attention or resources to confront the issue. The fight against femicide and gender violence does not even have an allocated budget and as a consequence the country only has a few refuges for abused women and their children. There is a deplorable lack of care centres for victims; there are no assistance programmes for the 800 children who are orphaned every year due to femicides and no prevention programmes or widespread awareness campaigns at a national level. Governments continue to implement outdated and counter-productive legislation, such as the absurd practice of victims being made to deliver subpoenas to their aggressors, among others.
Women are still traditionally seen as domestic care providers, whose place is at home and not in the workplace. With regard to women’s economic opportunities, there are few public policies that promote the generation of female employment and foster reconciliation between work and family life, in such a way that the State, and not women, take some responsibility for care work (children, elderly people). This is why, despite that fact that women have overtaken men in the field of education (making up 62.2% of university enrolments), they still constitute the majority of the unemployed population. Moreover, women who are economical dependent are often obliged to remain with their aggressors.