Santo Domingo, Nov 25 (EFE) – Dominican feminist groups held a rally Thursday in this capital to demand the decriminalization of abortion in three cases and denounce gender violence.
The march was held to mark International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
Wearing green, orange and yellow T-shirts, dozens of women marched to the Palace of Congress, where they demanded a stop to “the male chauvinist, classist and racist rage” that “afflicts women, adolescents, girls, trans women, Dominicans, Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian origin.”
Around 64 women have been victims of femicides (gender-based killings) this year in the Dominican Republic, according to the head of the Women’s Ministry, Mayra Jimenez, who said the country is working “on a prevention, care and reparations plan” to battle that scourge.
One of the demonstrators’ main demands was the decriminalization of abortion – which is completely banned in the country, with no exceptions – in three circumstances: when the mother’s life is in danger, when the fetus would not be able to survive or in cases of rape or incest.
The Senate has just approved new Penal Code legislation that, among other things, establishes specific punishments for femicide, domestic violence and intimate partner sexual violence, but would only decriminalize abortion if the life of either the mother or the fetus is at risk.
That legislation will now go to the Chamber of Deputies, which may either approve it as is or make modifications, in which case the initiative would return to the upper house.
The continued criminalization of abortion “is a particularly oppressive reality for women who lack basic information about their bodies or access to contraceptive methods,” a manifesto released Thursday said.
“And to make matters worse,” it added, “if they are raped or have any kind of unwanted pregnancy, the law obligates them to carry their pregnancy to term even if their lives are in danger.”
Due in part to clandestine abortions, the Dominican Republic has 127 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, one of the highest rates in Latin America.
The demonstrators also demanded that Congress reincorporate into the proposed Penal Code protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and protect women against all forms of violence, articles that were already part of approved drafts but which lawmakers “inexplicably” excluded from the debate.
They also demanded an immediate halt to the arrest and deportation of pregnant Haitian women.
Agents with the General Directorate of Migration have recently detained numerous pregnant women in the vicinity of medical centers and deported them automatically, even though immigration law prohibits these arrests.
“No more injustice. Respect the rights of Haitian migrants,” the women said in the manifesto, in which they also recommended that sex education be taught in schools considering that the Dominican Republic ranks second in the region in teenage pregnancies. EFE