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Santo Domingo’s Minister For Women Breaks The Silence On The ‘Terrifying’ Number of Femicides In The Dominican Republic

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SANTO DOMINGO — The discovery of a dismembered body of a woman this week in the Dominican Republic has put the spotlight on high levels of femicides in a country where one woman has been killed every two days in June alone.

The victim was Dominga Bautista Lora, 35, whose body parts were found on Monday in a bag dumped in a ravine in the province of Sanchez Ramirez. Her suspected killer has been arrested, according to local press reports.

The wave of femicides – the killing of a woman by a man because of her gender – in the Caribbean nation is “terrifying”, said Janet Camilo, the country’s minister for women.

So far this year, 43 women have been killed in gender-based killings and six femicides have been reported this month alone, according to latest police figures, Camilo said.

“We can’t continue to protect these terrifying figures under the mantle of silence, a silence that makes us accomplices of humiliation, harassment, beatings and murders,” Camilo told reporters this week.

“I ask myself, what kind of society are we becoming.”

Femicide largely stems from the Dominican Republic’s “macho” culture, which tends to blame women for the violence inflicted on them and to condone it, campaigners say.

Victims of femicide usually have a history of suffering domestic violence and killers are often the victims’ current or former partners, sometimes motivated by jealously or because a woman has refused to go back with an ex-boyfriend, activists say.

Latin America has the highest femicide rates in the world, according to U.N. Women.

Earlier this month police reported another victim of femicide – Maria Cesarina Melo. She was strangled to death by a rope at the hands of her partner, who then committed suicide.

“What we have been seeing in recent years is shocking figures in the Dominican Republic in terms of violence against women and girls, including femicide, and the lack of appropriate response from the authorities,” Robin Guittard, Caribbean campaigner at rights group Amnesty International, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

(THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION)

(Reporting by Anastasia Moloney @anastasiabogota, Editing by Ros Russell.; Thomson Reuters Foundation)

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 50 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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