Gender Equality in the Dominican Republic

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Dominican_Rep.
flag_Dominican_Rep..png
Flag of Dominican_Rep.
Population (in Mil.) 10.28
Gross Domestic Product (In USD Billions - WB) 59.05
Sex Ratio (m/f) 1.03
Life Expectancy Ratio (f/m) 1.085714286
Fertility Rate 2.44
Estimated Earned Income (f/m)
Tertiary Enrolment Ratio (f/m) 34
Women in Parliament (in %) 20.8
INDICES
Human Development Index 96/187
Social Institutions and Gender Index 9/86
Gender Inequality Index 96/186
Gender Equity Index 56/168
Women’s Economic Opportunity Index 73/128
Global Gender Gap Index - /68
More information on variables
 

Contents

Social Institutions

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.[1] Following a series of dictatorships, and civil war in the 1960s, the Dominican Republic has been governed by democratically elected leaders since 1996.[2] The country is a major tourist destination; other income comes from coffee, tobacco, sugar, and Free Trade zones.[3] The country’s wealth, however, is unevenly distributed, with poverty and inequality particularly affecting the country’s Afro-descendant population.[4] 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.[5] The Dominican Republic is classed as an upper-middle income country by the World Bank.[6]

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.[7] Instead, Article 336 of Law 24-97, enacted on 27 January 1997, proscribes discrimination on the basis of gender.[8]

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 50% of women of reproductive age were unemployed in the Dominican Republic.[9] According to the Ministry of State for Women, the number of female-headed households rose from 28 to 35% of the total between 2002 and 2007;[10] these households are particularly vulnerable to poverty and social exclusion.[11] 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.[12] The Dominican Republic ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women in 1982, and the Optional Protocol in 2001.[13] The country ratified the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence Against Women (‘Convention of Belém do Pará’) in 1996.[14] The Dominican Republic is ranked in 98th place in the 2011 Human Development Report (out of 187 countries), with a score of 0.689.[15] In the 2011 Gender Inequality Index, the country’s score is 0.480 (90th out of 146 countries with data).[16] The Dominican Republic is ranked in 81st place in the 2011 Global Gender GapReport, with a score of 0.6682.[17]

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.[18]

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

Parental authority is exercised jointly by the father and mother.[19] 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.[20] 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.

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.[21]

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).[22] 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.[23] 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).[24]

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% sought assistance.[25] According to the 2007 Demographic and Health Survey, less than 4% 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%. Survey respondents who were younger, less educated, less wealthy, and those with large families tended to be more accepting of domestic violence.[26] 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.[27] Rape is also a serious problem, with 10% of women interviewed for the 2007 DHS reporting at least one act of sexual violence in their lifetime.[28] 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.[29] Indeed, the US Department of State reports that police are often reluctant to handle rape cases, and refer victims to NGOs for support instead.[30] 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.[31]

Women have the right to access contraception, and information about reproductive health and family planning.[32] Contraceptive knowledge was universal among sexually active women in the Dominican Republic questioned for the 2007 DHS.[33] In 2002, UNICEF reported that nearly 66% of Dominican women aged 15-49 were using a modern method of contraception as a form of family planning.[34] By way of contrast, the 2007 Demographic and Health Survey found that 75% of all women, and 91% of all married or sexually active women had used contraception, with 70 % using at the time of the survey.[35] In all the Demographic and Health Survey found that 11% of women had an unmet need for family planning.[36]

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.[37] The under-five mortality rate was higher for boys than for girls, while malnutrition rates were the same for both genders.[38] 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.[39] 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.[40] 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.[41] There is no evidence to suggest that Dominican Republic is a country of concern in relation to missing women.

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% of women report having sole ownership of land or own it in conjunction with someone else.[42] 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.[43]

Women in the Dominican Republic have legal access to property other than land and are entitled to administer their property before and after marriage.[44] 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.[45] As of 2004, the civil code was under review, with a view to amending this and other discriminatory provisions.[46] 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.[47]

On the other hand, while nearly 71 % of women in a 2007 survey reported earning less than their husband or partner, over 96 % of women have either sole or joint responsibility for how household income is spent. Just 3 % report having no say in the matter.[48]

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.[49] 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.[50]

Women and men have the same right to vote and stand for office in the Dominican Republic.[51] 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 % 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.[52] 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.[53] By law women can receive twelve weeks of maternity leave at 100 % of her salary, half of which is paid for by her employer.[54] 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.[55]

References

  1. 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)
  2. See reference 1
  3. 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)
  4. See reference 3
  5. See reference 3
  6. World Bank (n.d.) ‘Data: Dominican Republic’, Washington, D.C.: World Bank, http://data.worldbank.org/country/dominican-republic (accessed 27 November 2011)
  7. Article 21 of the Constitution of the Dominican Republic, proclaimed 26 January 2010.
  8. 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, p. 20.
  9. 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, p.5 ;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, Table 14.1.
  10. 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, p. 6.
  11. 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, p.5
  12. See Reference 11, pp.37-8; 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, p.6
  13. 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)
  14. 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)
  15. 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. p.128
  16. 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. p.140
  17. 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 p.11
  18. 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; 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, Table 6.1.1
  19. Article 357-3 of Law 24-97 in, 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, p. 20.
  20. Act No. 55-97 amending the Agrarian Reform Act in See Reference 11, p.38
  21. 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
  22. Law No. 24-97 in 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, pp. 16-17; 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)
  23. 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)
  24. 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)
  25. 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, Table 15.16.
  26. See reference 25, Tables 14.15.1 and 14.15.2.
  27. Law No. 24-97 in 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, pp. 16-17.
  28. See reference 25, Table 15.4.
  29. See reference 21
  30. 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)
  31. Article 37 of the 2010 Constitution
  32. 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)
  33. See reference 25, Table 15.1.
  34. United Nations (UN) (2007), World Contraceptive Use – 2007, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, New York, NY.
  35. See reference 25, Tables 5.2 and 5.3.
  36. See reference 25, Table 7.3.
  37. See reference 25,Table 10.3
  38. See reference 25, Tables 8.2, 11.1
  39. Data from the Encuesta de Fuerza de Trabajo (April) 2005 in 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)
  40. United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) (n.d.) ‘Dominican Republic – Statistics’, http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/domrepublic_statistics.html (accessed 28 November 2011)
  41. Central Intelligence Agency (2012) The World Fact Book: Sex Ratio, available at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2018.html, accessed 29 February 2012
  42. See reference 25, Table 14.6.
  43. Law No. 55-97, The Agrarian Reform Act in 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, pp. 38-39.
  44. Articles 217-219, 221 of the Civil Code in 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, p. 67.
  45. Article 1428 of the Civil Code in 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, p. 65.
  46. SEE REFERENCE 11, p.40; 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, p.1
  47. SEE REFERENCE 11, pp. 39-40.
  48. See reference 25, Table 14.5.1.
  49. Freedom House (2010)
  50. Freedom House (2010), Freedom in the World, Accessible at http://www.freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/2010/dominican-republic; 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); 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, p.22
  51. See reference 11, p.22
  52. See reference 21
  53. 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; 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, p. 24.
  54. International Labour Organization (ILO) (2009), Database of Conditions of Work and Employment Laws, International Labour Organization, Geneva, Switzerland, accessed 26 January 2010
  55. See reference 21

The Women, Business and the Law

Where are laws equal for men and women?  

The Women, Business and the Law report presents indicators based on laws and regulations affecting women's prospects as entrepreneurs and employees. Several of these indicators draw on the Gender Law Library, a collection of over 2,000 legal provisions impacting women's economic status. This report does not seek to judge or rank countries, but to provide information to inform discussions about women’s economic rights. Women, Business and the Law provides data covering 6 areas: accessing institutions, using propertygetting a jobproviding incentives to workbuilding credit, and going to court. Read more about the methodology.

For detailed information on Dominican Republic, please visit the Women, Business and
the Law Dominican Republic
page.

Sources


The FAO Gender and Land Rights Database

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The FAO Gender and Land Rights Database contains country level information on social, economic, political and cultural issues related to the gender inequalities embedded in those rights. Disparity on land access is one of the major causes for social and gender inequalities in rural areas, and it jeopardizes, as a consequence, rural food security as well as the wellbeing of individuals and families.

Six categories

The Database offers information on the 6 following Categories:

For detailed information on the Dominican Republic, please visit the report on the Dominican Republic in the FAO Gender and Land Rights Database.

Sources

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