Dominican Republic: Information on recourse and protection available to female victims of sexual and spousal abuse, including the possibility of having a spouse restrained
|Publisher||Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada|
|Author||Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada|
|Publication Date||1 December 1993|
|Citation / Document Symbol||DOM15885.E|
|Cite as||Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Dominican Republic: Information on recourse and protection available to female victims of sexual and spousal abuse, including the possibility of having a spouse restrained, 1 December 1993, DOM15885.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6ac8f70.html [accessed 20 June 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
According to a feminist and a lawyer specializing in family law in Santiago (2 Dec. 1993) and a representative of the Centro de Investigación para la Acción Femenina (CIPAF) in Santo Domingo (3 Dec. 1993), there is no specific legislation dealing with domestic violence against women, and there is no provision in Dominican law that specifies what punishment is to be applied in cases of violence between husbands and wives.
The Penal Code, which dates from 1884, contains penalties for persons convicted on charges of homicide, rape or of assault in which the victim is physically injured (ibid.). The lawyer stated that paragraph 3, section 4 of the Penal Code defines sexual abuse and rape as an "act against public morality" (delitos contra la honestidasd y el pudor) rather than an "act against the person" (2 Dec. 1993). The CIPAF representative reported that according to the law, rape in marriage is considered to be "an obliged carnal junction" (3 Dec. 1993). For further information on this subject, please refer to the attached excerpt of the Código Penal de la Republica Dominicana.
The lawyer and the CIPAF representative both stated that in order for a women to bring charges of domestic violence against her spouse, she must go to the police, file a complaint and obtain a medical certificate from a forensic specialist (2 Dec. 1993; 3 Dec. 1993). She must also bring evidence and file another official complaint in the Fiscalia (the prosecutor's office located in the main court house), where upon the public prosecutor decides whether the matter is serious enough to be brought to court (ibid.). The plaintiff must then pursue the case through a lawyer and appear in court (ibid.). The lawyer pointed out that often these grievances are not taken seriously at the prosecutor's office (2 Dec. 1993). Both sources stated that victims of domestic violence are often unwilling to pursue complaints in court; often they decide not to press charges against the offender, or decide to withdraw charges when the case gets to court (2 Dec. 1993; 3 Dec. 1993). The lawyer reported that there is no procedure allowing for protection orders or for having a spouse restrained (2 Dec. 1993).
The lawyer stated that since the beginning of 1993, 72 cases of domestic violence have been reported in the Disctrict of Santiago, of which none were brought to court (2 Dec. 1993). The CIPAF representant reported that according to a study conducted by the Instituto de Población y Desarrollo (IPD) in 1990, one in six homes in the Dominican Republic is affected by some form of domestic violence (3 Dec. 1993).
For further information on this subject, please refer to Responses to Information Request DOM15883.E and 15894.E of 13 December 1993, which are available at your Regional Documentation Centre. In addition, please find attached a document on violence against women in the Dominican Republic which was presented by the Direccion General de la Promocion de la Mujer to the Inter-American Commission of Women of the Organization of American States (OAS) in July 1990.
This response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the DIRB within time constraints. This response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.
Centro de Investigación para la Acción Femenina (CIPAF), Santo Domingo. 3 December 1993. Letter from representative faxed to the DIRB.
Lawyer specializing in family law, Santiago. 2 December 1993. Telephone interview.
Dominican Republic. Código Penal de la Republica Dominicana. 1984 (promulgated in 1884), pp. 73-88. (faxed to the DIRB by the Inter-American Commission of Women of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington DC on 2 December 1993).
Dominican Republic. Direccion General de Promocion de la Mujer. n.d. Paper presented to the Inter-American Commission of Women of the Organization of American States (OAS) at a conference on violence against women held 17-20 July 1990 in Washington DC.