Children of the Dominican Republic
Realizing Children’s Rights in the Dominican Republic
The situation of children’s rights in the Dominican Republic is mixed. Certain children who come from wealthy families are greatly privileged, whereas for other children, living conditions are harsh and many of their rights are not respected.
Main problems faced by children in the Dominican Republic:
In the Dominican Republic, more than 40% of the population lives below the poverty line. Great disparities are evident everywhere, and the majority of the population fall into one of two extremes: families are either very rich or very poor. Innumerable children suffer the consequences of living in poverty—most notably with regard to health, education and work.Certain categories of children are
particularly affected and, as a result, are relegated to the margins of society; these include children of single mothers and children of immigrants, as well as children living in rural regions.
Efforts have been undertaken recently to improve both the quality of and access to healthcare. The infant mortality rate has fallen considerably, plus there has been an improvement in hospital care and resources. Nevertheless, not all Dominican children have been able to benefit from these improvements. For example, owing to cost and insufficient coverage, children who come from poor families still have only limited access to healthcare facilities and the services those establishments provide.AIDS is also prevalent throughout the country. Despite the fact that much progress has been made with regard to the prevention of HIV-transmission, the persistence of the virus remains unsettling. Many children find that they are orphans, and their future prospects are extremely somber.
More than 40% of Dominican children are uneducated. Children living in rural areas, as well as migrant children, do not have easy access to schools.Furthermore, the quality of the education itself is not as good as it should be: teachers are poorly trained; scholastic programs are ill-suited to the needs of the students; and school buildings stand in dire need of repair.Also disturbing is the fact that in the Dominican Republic, only 60% of children complete their primary education. Moreover, many families encourage their children to drop out of school and work full time so as to increase household finances.
Numerous acts of discrimination can be seen to occur not simply among certain segments of the Dominican Republic’s civil population, but also at an official level.Haitian children number among the principal victims of this type of discrimination. Many Haitian children live on Dominican soil, having fled the disasters that plague their own country. However, the Dominican Republic does not permit them to stand on equal footing with its own citizens, particularly where public services are concerned. Thus, they do not have easy access to education and healthcare.Discrimination against girls is also very prevalent throughout the country. Girls in fact do not have the same status or rights as boys do.
The Dominican Republic has undertaken major efforts to effectively address through legislation the question of child abuse.However, certain practices are not yet prohibited, and many children suffer from mistreatment, be it at the hands of their family or at school.Recently, there have been investigations which revealed that numerous cases of abuse occurred in hostels for the homeless.
In the Dominican Republic, one out of every ten children is obliged to work. The country has made this problem a top priority, and many texts have been adopted as part of the effort to eradicate it. Even so, Dominican child labour remains a very real problem. Many of them are exploited in an agricultural environment.Other children have become the victims of a far worse form of commerce. The expansion of tourism has, for example, led to children being exploited by sex traffickers who force their victims to become prostitutes and/or subject them to various, abominable practices of a sexual nature.
In the Dominican Republic, 40% of young girls are compelled to marry before the age of 18. They are prepared early on for their future situation as wives.However, such marriages often have a grave effect on the health of these young girls who do not yet understand what the marriages in question will entail.
More than a quarter of all births in the dominican Republic are not officially reported to the public authorities. The government has attempted to improve the situation, but its efforts remain insufficient. Thus, these children have neither an official identity nor a nationality.This leads in turn to great difficulties for the individuals in question. Since, in the eyes of society, they do not officially exist, they are unable to enjoy their rights.