LGBT, Sex Worker and Haitian Women's Groups Demand Human Rights in Dominican Republic

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Regional Correspondent North America and the Caribbean

Local LGBT, sex worker, and Haitian women’s groups are speaking out against the violation of their rights in the Dominican Republic, reports Diario Libre. Haitian women and members of the LGBT community are often cited as victims of “sex trafficking” in the Dominican Republic. Many work in the sex industry due to job discrimination. NSWP’s Briefing Paper, Sex Work is Not Trafficking, explores this topic. It can be found here.

Mariela Carvajal, president of an LGBT collective, says that discrimination against Dominican women of Haitian descent is a major problem in the Dominican Republic. A lack of public policies contributes to widespread discrimination in employment and health care. She says that there are no laws protecting the community from crimes against them.

“There are no policies or programmes of inclusion in health care or justice,” Carvajal tells Diario Libre. “There are many examples of impunity in cases of sexual crimes against the population. And there are numerous examples of bullying in schools.”

Liliana Dolis, coordinator for Mujeres Domínico-Haitianas (MUDHA), reports that Dominican authorities are questioning the documents of women of Haitian descent. MUDHA is an organisation that works to assist Dominican women of Haitian descent. She goes on to tell Diario Libre that this questioning may also leave their children stateless.The two organisations have joined forces to fight for their rights. They held a press conference together in October to discuss these issues.

Discrimination against Haitians is rampant in the Dominican Republic. President Danilo Medina is overseeing mass deportations of people of Haitian descent this year. Until 2010, the Dominican Republic granted citizenship to anyone born in the country. However, a decision by the highest Dominican court in 2013 stripped 200 000 Haitians migrants of citizenship claims, according to the Washington Post.

The Dominican government blames the Haitian government for not taking care of its citizens. However, at least 14 000 people of Haitian descent were forced over the Haitian border in June, according to The Guardian. This year has also been marked by lynchings of Haitians in the Dominican Republic, according to the San Francisco Bayview (warning: graphic images).

The United Nations has spoken out against the Dominican’s deportations of Haitians. The United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent told the Guardian that racial profiling is being used to deport Haitians.

A new National Human Rights Plan is being created by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MIREX). Activists are pushing for this plan to be inclusive of sex workers, Dominican-Haitian women, and the LGBT community.