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News Link • Sexuality: Sex and the Law

The Dominican Republic’s epidemic of domestic violence

• The Guardian via

The Dominican Republic is a popular destination for many international travelers for its calm sandy beaches and trendy resorts. What many do not know, however, is that the nation is one of many in Latin America where violence against women runs rampant and is on the rise.

The problem is exacerbated by the belief that machismo – that peculiarly Latin American brand of misogyny – and the subjugation of women is just part of the culture. “[W]e need to acknowledge that these forms of violence come from social differences in power and from male ideologies that sustain these differences … and subordinate women,” according to sociologist Denise Paiewonsky.

Women in the Dominican Republic are vulnerable to violence and abuse thanks, in part, to their status in society. In employment, participation in the workforce is 50.5%, compared to 79.8% of men (pdf), and the unemployment rates of women are double that of men, 23%, compared to 10% (pdf). Additionally, women make 44% less than what men earn for equal work, and regardless of whatever rule is on the books, employers are known to mandate pregnancy tests as part of a pre-hire medical examination and decline women whose tests are positive.

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