In the Dominican Republic, Sexual Violence Against Haitian Women and Girls is a Consequence of the Government's Racist Policy

Haitians detained for deportation stand inside a police truck on a border bridge between Dajabon, Dominican Republic, and Haiti, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023. (AP Photo/Ricardo Hernandez)

By Socialist Movement of Workers of the Dominican Republic, Black Agenda report, April 17, 2024

The reactionary government of the Dominican Republic has continued to pursue its racist policies against Haiti, deporting Haitians while exploiting the nation for its economic gain. Widespread sexual violence is one way this violent repression manifests.

Originally published in MST .

A few days after the right-wing PRM government defended the systematic violation of the human rights of the Haitian immigrant community, in response to complaints from Dominican organizations and Amnesty International  , a new savage crime by the DGM has shocked the country. It happened in Verón, Punta Cana, where all kinds of racist crimes have been perpetrated, including beatings, robberies and shootings, as part of the massive and arbitrary detentions of Haitian workers and their families for the purpose of expulsion. On April 5, the henchmen of the DGM broke in, devastating the community, terrorizing the people in the style of the Banda Colorá and the Trujillo paleros. In the midst of an illegal raid, like the hundreds that are carried out every week, they sexually abused a 14-year-old girl.

The government issued a statement  attempting to wash its hands of the crime. However, just one day before the crime, the Minister of the Presidency Igor Rodríguez  alleged that the government would not take into account the opinion of Amnesty International because its policy of mass deportations was based on an alleged exercise of sovereignty. Had raids without a court order and illegal immigration detentions of minors been eliminated, complying with Law 285-04 and what has been demanded by organizations in the country  for years, this aberrant crime would not have occurred.

“They brutally raped her, we and her family members are suing the immigration unit, especially the people who not only committed the act, after they leave her torn and sad, they come back and look for her, they take her to Benedicto and threaten her with death.” "They tell her that if she says anything they will kill her," explained Santiago Molina  , from the National Human Rights Commission of the Dominican Republic (CNDH-RD), when formally reporting the crime  to the PGR. Molina told the EFE agency that rapes of Haitian women and girls by agents are frequent but are not reported out of fear. The impunity  granted to the DGM by the PGR subordinate to the government has aggravated the situation.

On social networks, the frequency of reports of racist crimes by repressive agents has increased, including attempted murders with firearms  , or the alleged murder of a baby  in Los Platanitos, Higüey. All this after the government refused to consider the demands of Amnesty International and other organizations, which could indicate an escalation of racist violence of a retaliatory nature and for the purposes of electoral propaganda, to attract the support of far-right sectors.

As in the bloodiest contexts of war, Haitian women and girls or girls of Haitian origin are being abused as part of the DGM's campaign to terrorize this hardworking community. The rampant racism of the government has the silence of self-proclaimed "progressive" sectors with representation in Congress. However, it has generated outrage in popular communities where injustice is recognized against the Haitian migrant population and their descendants, as well as any black person racially profiled as "suspicious" by the authorities. In March, transportation workers and other community workers repelled an attack by DGM henchmen in Cristo Rey, in the National District, with stones and bottles when the agents beat a Haitian worker.

Thousands of “isolated cases”?

The government's response to the undeniable racist and criminal violence of the DGM is to affirm that these are isolated cases, as the Dominican ambassador to the OAS, Josué Fiallo, recently stated in an IACHR hearing  in November 2023, in which had to admit the deportation of more than 2,200 pregnant women between 2021 and 2023.

Sexual violence is less documented than other human rights violations and frequently goes unreported. However, in September 2023, the case of the Haitian woman Stephy Graph became known, who after being detained for an alleged false visa was sexually abused  by repressive agents at the Las Américas International Airport (AILA). The PGR has not published information about this case and whether there are convictions or trials in progress.

The black Dominican woman, Cristina Martínez Lorenzo, arrested on September 20, 2023, based on racial profiling during a DGM operation at the San Cristóbal hospital, was illegally exiled. Taking advantage of her mental health condition, the officers detained and banished her. Her relatives reported that she was sexually abused  and was possibly pregnant. There are also no known criminal charges or convictions in this case.

The right-wing PRM government has continued a policy of racist persecution that seeks to maintain the high levels of oppression and exploitation of the Haitian immigrant community, for the benefit of Dominican capitalists and other countries based in the Dominican Republic, both in agribusiness and in construction and the services area. At some point, the Dominican State will have to answer to the world about the apartheid regime that it is building to deprive Haitian and Dominican immigrants of Haitian descent of all political, economic, and social rights.

 

Posted April 21, 2024