A few days before the Un Human Rights Committee began its review in march of the Dominican Republic's human rights record, Amnesty submitted a detailed report of its concerns. These included widespread violence by police, use of torture, discrimination against those of Haitian origin, who are often refused supply or renewal of essential identity documents and an alarmingly high level of violence against girls and women.
Women are frequently subjected to domestic violence, sexual assaults and rape, and many are killed. According to the Office of the Prosecutor General, 1,383 girls and women were killed between 2005 and 2011, 733 of them by partners or ex-partners. One specialist study centre has ranked the Republic first among forty European and American countries for prevalence of women killed by family members. Although a few integrated support units were set up in 2005, there are still only 14 of these, and only 2 short-term shelters, thus forcing most women at risk to take refuge with family or friends, where they are easily found. The situation is worsened by the negative attitudes of many judges and prosecutors.
Also, the Penal Code criminalises abortion in any circumstances, leading to a high rate of maternal mortality resulting from unsafe illegal abortions.
Amnesty’s recommendations are:
The government should establish at least 32 integrated support Units (one in each Province) and at least 9 shelters (one in each Region) for all girls and women subjected to gender-based violence.
It should also establish a national co-ordinated policy towards gender-based abuses, and set up educational programmes to raise awareness of gender problems for judges, prosecutors, social workers and teachers.
The Penal Code should be amended to decriminalise women seeking abortion and the professionals concerned.
Sufficient funding needs to be allocated to the full implementation of these recommendations.
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