Free Dialogue: Pending legal framework for women's rights

Free Dialogue: Pending legal framework for women’s rights

A year and eight months have passed since the Government launched the “Strategic Plan for a Life Free of Violence for Women”, a plan for the prevention and eradication of this scourge for the four years of management.

The Minister for Women, Mayra Jiménez, assures that there are still pending issues and of the five areas of intervention, the Legal and Regulatory Framework has been the most difficult to work on, followed by that relating to the Prosecution and Punishment of crime.

During his participation in the Free DialogueJiménez assured that Dominican society owes women the expansion of a legal framework and regulations that ensure the inclusion of the gender and human rights approach.

For this, he announced that the Comprehensive Law on Violence against Women is ready and has already been agreed to be submitted to the National Congress, which recognizes, typifies and punishes the different types of violence and establishes the coordination mechanism between the institutions that offer services. of prevention, attention, sanction and reparation. This initiative was promised by President Luis Abinader in his surrender speech on February 27. In addition, he said that he has yet to promote improvements in the Human Trafficking and Trafficking Law.

He also cited that it is necessary to execute the measures agreed in international commitments such as Convention 189 on domestic work and 190 on violence and harassment of the International Labor Organization (ILO), the latter lacks a special law for its ratification in the Dominican Congress. More than 250,000 women work in domestic service.

23 years

of the Ministry. Created on August 11, 1999 by Law No. 86-99, the Ministry for Women is about to celebrate its 23-year history.

On the other hand, it promotes in the reform of the Purchasing and Contracting Law that of the increase in the contracting reserve for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), equivalent to 30%, 10% be for companies run by women.

Penal Code

Despite the elaboration of proposals for laws and reforms, it depends on the National Congress how little or how much progress can be made. The official emphasized the controversial reform of the Penal Code. “We need a Code that is a guarantor for women,” she said.

The Ministry of women wants in a new Penal Code the inclusion of the three causes of abortion as defenses of criminal responsibility, among other reforms.

Persecution and Punishment

Among the critical knots in the fight against gender violence continue to be the dismissal of the victims, the non-reporting and the difficulty of arrest, among other obstacles in the justice system.

“We have challenges, we need to ensure that arrest warrants are served quickly. When the cases go viral, it becomes extremely difficult to arrest the aggressor, it seems that they get under the stones… It becomes desperate for women, for the system, ”she deplored.

However, she assured that every woman who asks the Ministry for help can be sure that she will be safe and well cared for in one of the 16 shelters scattered throughout the country.

Betty Berenice Case

He took the opportunity to review the case of Betty Berenice Abreu, from Montecristi. Last January, her ex-partner killed her nine-year-old son in front of her and set fire to her home with two other offspring. He injured her with a firearm.

From then until last June, Betty and her two children were in a foster home, without the authorities carrying out the arrest of the aggressor, Jiménez said.

She left the shelter in July after showing the ministry that she would be safe in her new home.

It was not so. A few weeks ago, the survivor made a video that she posted on social networks denouncing that her ex-partner, Ramón Leonardo Capellán, continued to harass her and threaten her with death. “When the video came out, we told her: ‘Betty, come back, we can’t guarantee her life outside the shelter.’”

Given the weaknesses that persist in the Justice System, the ministry advances with pending challenges in the other areas of intervention: Comprehensive Prevention of violence, Repair of damages and Coordination and Governance. To this end, Jiménez defended alliances and the signing of inter-institutional agreements, training programs and female empowerment.

Thirty-three chairs

With the Ministry of Education, it works on the inclusion of 33 chairs on “A Free Life without Violence”, with Public Health the consolidation of the protocol to identify cases of violence, with Industry and Commerce it manages financing facilities for battered women.

“If we don’t attack the underlying problem, the cultural and structural problem of violence, then we know that in a few years other officials will be talking about the same thing and the problem will be the same,” said the Minister for Women.

40 femicides in 6 months; call line use *212

The Ministry of Women counted 40 femicides so far this year 2022. Minister Jiménez said that the lives of women who come to the Ministry for help are safe in shelters. “None of the ones we have rescued is a figure.” However, the official deplored the lack of trust in the system, which is why some women are unaware of or do not approach the Ministry. “We need every Dominican to know that there is an emergency line that works 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and that it doesn’t matter where you are in the country.” She said that aid to women has been expanded during her management, the lines * 212 have increased to 21 throughout the country and to 16 shelters. The time spent in these places is 30 days, extendable up to three months, according to Law No. 88-03. However, in the words of Jiménez, the time of a family in state custody has lasted longer than expected, the reason: “The aggressor is still at large.” Due to the deficiency in the rapid execution of the arrests, women like Betty Berenice have been in shelters for up to half a year and her children receive teaching from a distance, but alive. Figures So far this year, the ministry has attended to 4,228 calls on its *212 line, has provided 15,392 psychological assistance and 42,873 legal assistance. In the first half of 2022, the ministry’s legal team made up of 109 lawyers has worked on 20,964 cases, 20,112 correspond to open processes without a sentence and of 852 there are sentences. Of the total of 852 judicial decisions, 492 have been criminal (psychological violence, physical violence, rape, femicide, etc.) and 360 civil.

Journalist and broadcaster. She has been practicing journalism since 2017. She has experience in television, print and digital media.

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