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Break silence on 'terrifying' femicides in Dominican Republic - minister

by Anastasia Moloney | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Friday, 16 June 2017 17:17 GMT

So far this year, 43 women have been killed in gender-based killings

By Anastasia Moloney

BOGOTA, June 16 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - 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.

The Dominican Republic, along with 15 other countries in Latin America, have passed laws in recent years that define and punish femicide as a specific crime.

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.

(Reporting by Anastasia Moloney @anastasiabogota, Editing by Ros Russell.; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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