About 102 femicides are reported in the Dominican Republic each year, and rising. These cases only take into account women that are killed by their intimate partners, or their ex-intimate partners; these numbers are largely underestimated due to underreporting. 44% of the reported femicides are said to have occurred within family residences, while 42% are said to have occurred in public spaces. Women from ages 18 to 34 are at the highest risk of being killed by a current or former intimate partner. In addition, most of the reported femicides occurred between 6:00 pm and 5:00 am.
What does all of this information mean? It means that women are treated as second-class citizens in the Dominican Republic, like in many other places around the world. The fact that these femicides occur at almost the same rate in family residences and public spaces shows that women aren’t safe in most of the places they occupy. Their environment is set up so that they constantly have to live in fear, and surveil themselves and those around them, specifically the men around them. Often times women are blamed for the violence that is done to them – they aren’t good enough wives, they don’t appreciate the work that their husbands do for them, they aren’t docile enough, they want to be too independent, or they “look for it.”
Recently, I’ve seen a male in my family be violent towards his pregnant partner. His partner called the cops on him because she was tired of him repeatedly being violent towards her. He got arrested, and his parents immediately began blaming her saying that she has a big mouth, triggered him, and doesn’t know how to control herself. They blamed her despite the fact that their son was released the next day; despite the fact that she was kicked out of the apartment they were all living in because of an order of protection; and despite the fact that he has beat her multiple times. Then they warned their son saying, “Tu no esta’ en Dominicana. Aqui no juegan con eso,” or “This isn’t the Dominican Republic. They don’t play here.” But they don’t tell him that what he did was absolutely unacceptable and that he should have self-control. Instead, they warn him against the strict laws in the U.S. because he isn’t a citizen. As if his actions would have been excusable in the D.R.
Excuses like this allow for the high rate of femicides in the D.R. As of now, I’m not sure what to do for Dominican women. It’s something that I’m constantly grappling with as a Dominican woman who always has to fight her own family’s misogyny and violence towards women. There are some organizations in NYC that Dominican women can reach out to for help, like the Dominican Women’s Development Center. In the Dominican Republic, there’s an organization called “Fundacion Basta Ya” that legally supports women who are victims of violence. These organizations need to be supported in order to help fight the violence, bring awareness to the issue, unify Dominican women, and give them a voice, especially women living in the D.R.