Dominican Republic

Dominican Republic is ranked 9th out of 86 in the 2012 Social Institutions and Gender Index. The country was ranked 40th out of 102 in the 2009 Social Institutions and Gender Index.

The 2011 UNDP Human Development Index (HDI) score for the country is 0.689, placing it 98th place (out of 187 countries). The Gender Inequality Index score is 0.480. Dominican Republic's World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Index rating for 2011 is 0.6682, placing it 81st place (out of a total of 135 countries)

Discriminatory Family Code: 

The legal minimum age for marriage is 18 years for both men and women, but according to data from the 2007 DHS, 26.7% of women interviewed aged 15 – 19 were married, co-habiting, divorced, separated or widowed.[1]

There is no evidence to suggest that polygamy is practised in the Dominican Republic.

Parental authority is exercised jointly by the father and mother.[2] It is unclear whether this is the case in practice, and whether child custody arrangements tend to favour mothers or fathers in the event of divorce.  It is also unclear what rights women enjoy in regard to divorce, and whether or not women can pass citizenship onto their children.

Women’s inheritance rights improved with the passing in 1998 of land reform law, which established the principle of equality in all matters relating to land ownership and management.[3] As a result, they now have full rights to inherit land.  It is unclear what women’s inheritance rights are in regard to forms of property other than land.

[1] United Nations (UN) (2009);  Centro de Estudios Sociales y Demográficos (CESDEM) & Macro International, Inc. (2008), Table 6.1.1 [2] Article 357-3 of Law 24-97 in CEDAW (1997), p. 20. [3] Act No. 55-97 amending the Agrarian Reform Act in CEDAW (2003), p.38

Restricted Physical Integrity: 

Rape is a criminal offence in the Dominican Republic.  It is punished by 10 to 15 years’ imprisonment, or 20 years for the rape of a “vulnerable person”. The State can prosecute rapists even when no complaint is brought by the victim and a woman can bring a complaint of rape against her husband.[4]

A law was passed in 1997 to combat domestic violence, with penalties of one to 30 years in prison and fines from 700 to 245,000 pesos (approximately $20 to $6,800).[5]  According to the US Department of State, there is a specialist Violence Prevention and Attention Unit with 14 satellite units in the capital city Santo Domingo, where victims could file legal complaints, as well as receive emergency medical and psychological care.[6]

Sexual harassment is a criminal offence, with punishments of up to a year’s imprisonment, or a fine of up to 10,000 pesos (approx. $277).[7] 

Violence against women is widespread: according to data from the 2007 DHS, up to one-third of women questioned had suffered physical violence at the hands of their husbands or other men, more than half of the victims received no help, and just 41 percent sought assistance.[8] According to the 2007 Demographic and Health Survey, less than four percent of women agreed that men were justified in hitting their wives/partners for any reason (of five given). For men, that number is 7.4 percent. Survey respondents who were younger, less educated, less wealthy, and those with large families tended to be more accepting of domestic violence.[9]  The 2003 CEDAW report notes that up until that point, the law on domestic violence had been slow to take effect. Amongst the obstacles identified was a resistance on the part of judges to take gender into account in their decisions. Lack of budgetary resources were limiting the opportunity to create rehabilitation centres or mechanisms for offenders, or safe facilities offering shelter and care to victims of violence.[10]

Rape is also a serious problem, with ten percent of women interviewed for the 2007 DHS reporting at least one act of sexual violence in their lifetime.[11] Complaints are not lodged in most rape cases because of social stigma and the perception that the police and judiciary would fail to provide redress.[12]  Indeed, the US Department of State reports that police are often reluctant to handle rape cases, and refer victims to NGOs for support instead.[13]

There is no evidence to suggest that female genital mutilation is practised in the Dominican Republic.

In a noticeable step backwards for women’s rights, the 2010 Constitution has made all forms of abortion illegal (including in instances of rape or to save the woman’s life); no previous Constitution has done this.[14]

Women have the right to access contraception, and information about reproductive health and family planning.[15]  Contraceptive knowledge was universal among sexually active women in the Dominican Republic questioned for the 2007 DHS.[16] In 2002, UNICEF reported that nearly 66 percent of Dominican women aged 15-49 were using a modern method of contraception as a form of family planning.[17] By way of contrast, the 2007 Demographic and Health Survey found that 75 percent of all women, and 91 percent of all married or sexually active women had used contraception, with 70 percent using at the time of the survey.[18] In all the Demographic and Health Survey found that eleven percent of women had an unmet need for family planning.[19]

[4] US Department of State (2010) [5] Law No. 24-97 in CEDAW (2003), pp. 16-17; US Department of State (2011) [6] US Department of State (2011) [7] US Department of State (2011) [8] CESDEM & Macro International, Inc. (2008), Table 15.16. [9] CESDEM & Macro International, Inc. (2008), Tables 14.15.1 and 14.15.2. [10] Law No. 24-97 in CEDAW (2003), pp. 16-17. [11] CESDEM & Macro International, Inc. (2008), Table 15.4. [12] US Department of State (2010) [13] US Department of State (2011) [14] Article 37 of the 2010 Constitution.  [15] US Department of State (2011) [16] CESDEM & Macro International, Inc. (2008), Table 15.1. [17] UN (2007) [18] CESDEM & Macro International, Inc. (2008), Tables 5.2 and 5.3. [19] CESDEM & Macro International, Inc. (2008), Table 7.3.

Son Bias: 

According to data from the 2007 DHS, 53.4% of girls and 52.3% of boys under two had had all their basic vaccinations.[20]  The under-five mortality rate was higher for boys than for girls, while malnutrition rates were the same for both genders.[21]  This would indicate no son preference in regard to early childhood care.

According to the Understanding Children’s Work project (UCW), 2.7% of girls and 9% of boys aged 10-14 were engaged in some form of paid labour in 2005.  Data was unavailable as to the amount of time children spent on domestic work.[22]

Enrolment and attendance rates are virtually the same for girls and boys at primary level, but at secondary level, girls’ enrolment and attendance rates are higher than boys, according to UNICEF.[23]  This would indicate no son preference in regard to access to education.

The male/female sex ratio for the total population in 2012 is 1.03.[24] 

There is no evidence to suggest that Dominican Republic is a country of concern in relation to missing women.

[20] CESDEM & Macro International, Inc. (2008),Table 10.3 [21] CESDEM & Macro International, Inc. (2008), Tables 8.2, 11.1 [22] Data from the Encuesta de Fuerza de Trabajo (April) 2005 in UCW (n.d.) [23] UNICEF (n.d.) [24] Central Intelligence Agency (2012)

Restricted Resources and Entitlements: 

Until the 1998 Land Reform Act, women were not legally entitled to obtain land through inheritance and men retained ownership of land in the case of divorce. As a result of all these factors, less than 7 percent of women report having sole ownership of land or own it in conjunction with someone else.[25]  Some women have benefited from programmes granting them access to land. However, surveys carried out by the Secretary of State for Agriculture suggest that, in comparison to men, they are allocated smaller plots with low productivity, which provide only a subsistence level of livelihood. Most women who benefit from such schemes are aged between 41 and 60 years; thus, access to land is even more limited to women who are younger or older.[26]

Women in the Dominican Republic have legal access to property other than land and are entitled to administer their property before and after marriage.[27] However, under the civil code, there is a system of joint ownership of matrimonial property, which applies to about two-thirds of married couples, where the husband is entrusted with administration of his wife’s property during the marriage.[28]  As of 2004, the civil code was under review, with a view to amending this and other discriminatory provisions.[29] It is unclear whether the amendments have been made.

Even though there is no discrimination in law, women find it more difficult than men to exercise their right to access to bank loans. To tackle this problem, the Dominican Agrarian Institute offers specific credit facilities for women. The number of women who benefit from official grants of such loans remains low.[30]

On the other hand, while nearly 71 percent of women in a 2007 survey reported earning less than their husband or partner, over 96 percent of women have either sole or joint responsibility for how household income is spent. Just 3 percent report having no say in the matter.[31]

[25] CESDEM & Macro International, Inc. (2008), Table 14.6. [26] Law No. 55-97, The Agrarian Reform Act in CEDAW (2003), pp. 38-39. [27] Articles 217-219, 221 of the Civil Code in CEDAW (1997), p. 67. [28] Article 1428 of the Civil Code in CEDAW (1997), p. 65. [29] CEDAW (2003), p.40; CEDAW (2004), p.1 [30] CEDAW (2003), pp. 39-40. [31] CESDEM & Macro International, Inc. (2008), Table 14.5.1.

Restricted Civil Liberties: 

There do not appear to be any legal restrictions on women’s freedom of movement.

The rights to freedom of speech, assembly and association are upheld by law and generally respected.[32]  There is a well organised and active civic sector, which includes many women’s rights organisations; they appear to be particularly active in the areas of reproductive rights, promoting women’s political participation, and raising awareness of gender-based violence.[33]

Women and men have the same right to vote and stand for office in the Dominican Republic.[34]  The government has taken steps to increase women’s political participation, and as a result the number of women serving in Congress has risen slowly over the last ten years. By law political parties must reserve 33 percent of the positions on their lists of candidates for women, but in practice the parties have tended to place women’s names low on those lists.[35] 36 of 210 seats in the bicameral parliament were held by women following the 2006 elections, although that number stood at 26 four years earlier.[36]

By law women can receive twelve weeks of maternity leave at 100 percent of her salary, half of which is paid for by her employer.[37] Although it is illegal to discriminate against or fire women who are pregnant, reports suggest that some employers fired pregnant women and forced others to take pregnancy tests when they were hired, denying the positions if the tests came back positive.[38]

[32] Freedom House (2010) [33] Freedom House (2010); US Department of State (2011); CEDAW (2003), p.22 [34] CEDAW (2003), p.22 [35] US Department of State (2010) [36] Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) (2010); CEDAW (2003), p. 24. [37] International Labour Organization (ILO) (2009) [38] US Department of State (2010)

Background: 

Sharing the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, the Dominican Republic has been an independent country since the end of Spanish colonial rule in the mid-19th century.[39]  Following a series of dictatorships, and civil war in the 1960s, the Dominican Republic has been governed by democratically elected leaders since 1996.[40]  The country is a major tourist destination; other income comes from coffee, tobacco, sugar, and Free Trade zones.[41]  The country’s wealth, however, is unevenly distributed, with poverty and inequality particularly affecting the country’s Afro-descendant population.[42] The Dominican Republic has an uneasy relationship with its much poorer neighbour Haiti; many Haitians live illegally in the Dominican Republic, and the government has organised mass deportations.[43]  The Dominican Republic is classed as an upper-middle income country by the World Bank.[44]

The 2010 Constitution of the Dominican Republic, like its 2002 predecessor, recognizes women as citizens but does not contain explicit language concerning equality of the sexes.[45] Instead, Article 336 of Law 24-97, enacted on 27 January 1997, proscribes discrimination on the basis of gender.[46]

Women are much more severely affected by unemployment than men; as of 2004, the unemployment rate for women was three times that of men, while the 2007 Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) found that fifty percent of women of reproductive age were unemployed in the Dominican Republic.[47] According to the Ministry of State for Women, the number of female-headed households rose from 28 to 35 percent of the total between 2002 and 2007;[48] these households are particularly vulnerable to poverty and social exclusion.[49] Domestic violence is still a major problem. In rural areas, rates of poverty are high, and inequality is evident in that women have poor access to healthcare, education and bank loans.[50]

The Dominican Republic ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women in 1982, and the Optional Protocol in 2001.[51]  The country ratified the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence Against Women (‘Convention of Belém do Pará’) in 1996.[52]

 

[39] CIA (2011) [40] CIA (2011) [41] BBC (n.d.) [42] BBC (n.d.) [43] BBC (n.d.) [44] World Bank (n.d.) [45] Article 21 of the Constitution of the Dominican Republic, proclaimed 26 January 2010. [46] Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) (1997), p. 20. [47] CEDAW (2004), p.5 ; Centro de Estudios Sociales y Demográficos (CESDEM) & Macro International, Inc. (2008) Encuesta Demográfica de Salud 2007, Table 14.1. [48] Secretaría de Estado de la Mujer (2009), p. 6. [49] CEDAW (2003), p.5 [50] CEDAW (2003), pp.37-8; CEDAW (2004), p.6 [51] UNTC (2011) [52] Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (n.d.) 

Sources: 

BBC (n.d.) ‘Dominican Republic country profile’, BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/country_profiles/1216926.stm (accessed 28 November 2011)

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) (2011) The World Factbook:  Dominican Republic, Washington, D.C.: CIA, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/dr.html (accessed 28 November 2011)

Central Intelligence Agency (2012) The World Factbook: Sex Ratio, available at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2018.html (accessed 29 February 2012)

Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) (1997), Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: Dominican Republic, Fourth Periodic Report of States Parties, CEDAW/C/DOM/4, CEDAW, New York, NY.

CEDAW (2003), Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: Dominican Republic, Fifth Periodic Report of States Parties, CEDAW/C/DOM/5, CEDAW, New York, NY.

CEDAW (2004), Replies to List of Issues and Concluding Observations, Fifth Periodic Report of States Parties, CEDAW/PSWG/2004/II/CRP.2/Add.1, CEDAW, New York, NY.

Centro de Estudios Sociales y Demográficos (CESDEM) & Macro International, Inc. (2008) Encuesta Demográfica de Salud 2007, CESDEM & Macro International, Inc.: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic & Calverton, Maryland, United States.

Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) (2001), Considerations of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 44 of the Convention: Concluding Observations of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, CRC/C/15/Add. 150, CRC, New York, NY.

ENDESA (1999), Population and Health Census, CESDEM (Centre for Social and Demographic Studies), Santo Domingo.

ENDESA (2002), Population and Health Census, CESDEM (Centre for Social and Demographic Studies), Santo Domingo.

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) (n.d.) Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence Against Women (‘Convention of Belém do Pará’) – status of ratification, http://www.cidh.oas.org/Basicos/English/Basic14.Conv%20of%20Belem%20Do%20Para%20Ratif.htm (accessed 23 November 2011)

International Labour Organization (ILO) (2009), Database of Conditions of Work and Employment Laws, International Labour Organization, Geneva, Switzerland, accessed 26 January 2010.

Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) (2010), Women in Parliament: All Countries on National Parliaments, Inter-Parliamentary Union, Geneva, http://www.ipu.org/wmn-e/classif.htm.

Secretaría de Estado de la Mujer (2009), Aplicación de las Declaración y Plataforma de Acción de Beijing y el documento final del vigésimo tercer periodo extraordinario de sesiones de la Asamblea General (2000) para la preparación de las evaluaciones y exámenes regionales que tendrán lugar en 2010 para la conmemoración de Beijing+15, CEPAL (Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe): Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Understanding Children’s Work project (UCW) (n.d.) Child labour indicators / tables / Dominican Republic, Rome:  ILO, UNICEF, the World Bank, http://www.ucw-project.org/Pages/Tables.aspx?id=1267 (accessed 28 November 2011)

United Nations (UN) (2007), World Contraceptive Use – 2007, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, New York, NY.

UN (2008), World Marriage Data 2008, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, New York, NY.

UN (2009), Statistics and Indicators on Women and Men, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, accessed 27 April 2010, available from http://unstats.un.org/unsd/demographic/products/indwm/default.htm.

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) (n.d.) ‘Dominican Republic – Statistics’, http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/domrepublic_statistics.html (accessed 28 November 2011)

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) (2001) Encuesta por Conglomerados de Indicadores Múltiples (MICS-2000), UNICEF: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) (2011) Human Development Report 2011, http://hdr.undp.org/en/data/profiles/ (accessed 15 November 2011)

United Nations Development Programme (2011) Human Development Report 2011, available at http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/HDR_2011_EN_Complete.pdf (accessed 29 February 2012)

United Nations Treaty Collection (UNTC) (2010):  Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women, countries ratified. 

-                CEDAW:  http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-8&chapter=4&lang=en (accessed 22 November 2011)

-                Optional Protocol:  http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-8-b&chapter=4&lang=en (accessed 22 November)

US Department of State (2010), 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Dominican Republic, US Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Washington, DC.

US Department of State (2011), 2010 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Dominican Republic, US Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Washington, DC, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2010/wha/154503.htm (accessed 28 November 2011)

World Bank (n.d.) ‘Data:  Dominican Republic’, Washington, D.C.:  World Bank, http://data.worldbank.org/country/dominican-republic (accessed 27 November 2011)

World Economic Forum (2010) ‘The Global Gender Gap Index 2010 rankings’, http://www.weforum.org/pdf/gendergap/rankings2010.pdf

World Economic Forum (2011) The Global Gender Gap Report 2011, available at http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GenderGap_Report_2011.pdf (accessed 2 March 2012)

 

 

Data
Discrim. Fam. Code Rank 2012: 
25
Discrim. Fam. Code Value 2012: 
0.1606
Legal Age of Marriage: 
0
Early Marriage: 
0.267
Parental Authority: 
0
Inheritance: 
0
Data
Rest. Phys. Integrity Rank 2012: 
3
Rest. Phys. Integrity Value 2012: 
0.0574
Violence Against Women (laws): 
0.166667
Female Genital Mutilation: 
0
Reproductive Integrity: 
0.114
Attitudes Towards Domestic Violence: 
0.039
Prevalance Of Domestic Violence: 
0.172
Data
Son Bias Rank 2012: 
46
Son Bias Value 2012: 
0.515925
Missing Women: 
0
Fertility Preferences: 
0.4937
Data
Rest. Resources & Ent. Rank 2012: 
89
Rest. Resources & Ent. Value 2012: 
0.5071
Access To Land: 
0.5
Access To Property Other Than Land: 
0.5
Access To Bank Loans And Credit: 
0.5
Data
Rest. Civil Liberties Rank 2012: 
11
Rest. Civil Liberties Value 2012: 
0.0792
Access To Public Space: 
0
Political Participation: 
0.190698
Political Quotas: 
0