Dominican Republic: Women’s murders and family violence on the upswing

By Mercedes Alonso


Santo Domingo, November (SEMlac). – The nine-year-old daughter of Fidel Adón, a sergeant in the Dominican Navy, will never forget his shocking confession: “I have come to ask your forgiveness. I have to kill your mother and grandmother.”

Six months earlier, Aurelina Báez had decided to get divorced and move with her mother Juana because she had been living under constant abuse and threat.

Adón did not only kill the two women, but also hurt his brother-in-law and the one-year-old son of Aurelina’s sister. He hanged himself shortly afterwards.

The first half of 2017 closed with 50 women’s murders, as compared to 47 in the first six months of 2016, according to the Public Safety Observatory.

Local press reports indicated that 15 women have been killed in the last quarter of this year and that another five have been murdered in the last seven days. One of the murderers (Daniel Alfonso) is on the run.

Last October 28, Listín Diario (newspaper) published an article entitled Children’s sufferings after their parents commit crimes, including anger, depression, anxiety, isolation, low self-esteem, shame, and guilt.

Should a specialized police force be established?

The need to establish a specialized police force for violence-affected women was highlighted last October 27 by former district attorney José M. Hernández.

“When these women show up at police stations to report their cases, they are not well attended to,” he regretted.

“Police officers should be properly trained and sensitized,” he emphasized.

“We need to allocate adequate funding for education and awareness-raising actions,” he noted.

He recalled that two bills have been under review by the House and the Senate.

“They seek to help formulate prevention policies under a comprehensive care, sanction and eradication system that includes sexual and reproductive health and other issues that are contained in the criminal and civil codes,” he indicated.

He made the statement at a panel on policy proposals for gender violence prevention, which was sponsored by the Foundation for a Violence-Free Society and the Iberian-American University (UNIBE).

Speaking at the event, Foundation president Yadira Fondeur highlighted the need to promote equal rights for men and women, and foster knowledge generation, political will and commitment.

Estimates showed that over 60 per cent of victims had previously endured physical violence and 40 per cent, psychological violence.

“These acts have a very negative impact on boys and girls. In fact, 16 per cent of victims confessed that their children have also been abused by their sexual partners,” said PACAM president Soraya Lara.

One of the main recommendations of this local organization has to do with the provision of gender education since early childhood.