Learn more about specific causes in Dominican Republic that you can get involved in.
EnvironmentThe Dominican Republic faces substantial threats from pollution. One town in particular, Haina, is located near a closed down automobile battery recycling plant. The town has the highest levels of lead contamination in the world and its population reveals symptoms of lead poisoning.1 Moreover, factories and industrial centers are estimated to emit a total of 15,800 tons of pollutants every year. USAID has assisted the Dominican Republic with conducting climate change vulnerability assessments periodically.2 These assessments will help the government draft climate change policies more effectively.3
FamilyOne of the largest threats to domestic harmony is the prevalence of domestic abuse in the Dominican Republic. According to a report by The Guardian, gender-based violence is the fourth highest cause of death of women in the DR.1 Furthermore, the divorce rate in the Dominican Republic is one of the highest in the world, with over 14 divorces for every 100 couples. Broken families and poverty pose significant threats to the well being of children within the family and can limit their ability to succeed in life.2 The first six months of 2016 displayed a 2% increase in the number of killings of women and girls in comparison to 2015, while sexual violence complaints increased by 10%.3
Human RightsPolice and security forces in the Dominican Republic routinely abuse their power in ways that violate the basic human rights of citizens. Reports of forced disappearances, unlawful killings, politically motivated killings, and other such abuses of power have raised human rights concerns.1 Significant discrimination and abuse is directed towards Haitian migrants and their descendants, as well as stateless groups. Furthermore, human trafficking and sex tourism are listed as concerns in the Dominican Republic. Extrajudicial killings still continue in the Dominican Republic.2 There is a pervasive culture of impunity among police and government officials that continually undermines the effective implementation of rule of law.3
EducationSchool is compulsory for all children ages 6-14, but is loosely enforced by the government. Classrooms are overcrowded in poor-quality buildings, and most have outdated curriculums. The law states that 4% of GDP must be spent on education, but only 2.1% is reported being spent for this sector.1 Only 30% of students in the Dominican Republic will finish primary school and only 18% finish secondary school.2 Children are required to wear uniforms and bring basic supplies to attend school, but families that cannot afford these items do not send their children to school.3 Rural populations are especially disadvantaged due to higher poverty rates and large distances between schools. Presently, the Dominican Republic has drafted a National Consultation on the Rights of the Child and is Read More working to curb the high rate of family violence.4 Show Less
PovertyOver 40% of the Dominican Republic lives below the poverty line.1 Over 50% of children live in poverty.2 Poverty is especially crippling in the Dominican Republic because money is needed to participate in schools and access healthcare services. Those without money are doubly limited in opportunities for social mobility due to limited access to education and health. Poverty is especially common in rural areas, where social exclusion and geographic isolation exacerbate low incomes. Many of the poverty stricken citizens find work as small merchants, farmers, and manual labor.3 Dominicans of Haitian descent that live near the border of the two countries are particularly disadvantaged from both poverty and high levels of social exclusion.4
ReligionThe Dominican Republic generally supports religious freedom and there have been few instances of religious discrimination. The state declares Roman-Catholicism to be the official state religion, which grants the Catholic church benefits that other religious groups are not granted. Religious groups are expected to register with the government, but there have generally not been reports of abuse or discrimination in these proceedings.1 The vast majority, 95% of the population, declares themselves to be Roman Catholic with varying degrees of activity and practice. The remaining 5% either do not declare a religion or subscribe to indigenous beliefs.2
Clean WaterApproximately 85% of the Dominican population has access to clean water. 84% of the population has access to improved sanitation facilities.1 Limited access to water sources or access to only polluted sources poses a serious threat to the health of the Dominican Republic populace.2 The strong ties between baseball leagues in the United States and the Dominican Republic have led to the Major League Baseball Players Trust donating significant amounts of money toward the development of clean water infrastructure in an effort to give back to the country that raises many renowned players.3
EconomyOver 5% of Dominican citizens are unemployed. Unemployment for those between the ages of 15 and 24 is even higher, with 7.7% of males unemployed and 16% of females unemployed.1 Corruption is a further inhibitor of economic progress. Corruption pervades virtually all levels of society, including police and security forces, government officials, and the private sector.2 Contracts are not honored, government payments are delayed, bribes are regular features of transactions, and court rulings are not heeded. The lack of institution of deep reforms and government inefficiencies have allowed corruption to invade the economy.3 Public debt is 47% of the GDP, and rose by 3% between 2015 and 2016. The Dominican Republic’s main export partners are the US and Haiti, while the country mainly imports from Read More the US and China.4 Show Less
GovernmentGovernment corruption is a rampant problem in the Dominican Republic. The judiciary is so susceptible to political influence it is considered nearly impossible to pursue legal recourse without money or influence. Large-scale drug trafficking thrives in the Dominican Republic as a result of corruption in both public and private sectors.1 The Dominican Republic ranks 120 out of 176 on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, indicating a high level of corruption. The Dominican public scores their own government 31 of a possible 100.2 Although the Dominican Republic is formally classified as a democratic republic, the democratic process has been undermined by all of the prevalent human rights and social issues.3
HealthInfectious diseases such as cholera and diarrheal diseases are prevalent in the Dominican Republic.1 28% of the population is obese, and 4% of children under the age of 5 are underweight. Furthermore, maternal care suffers severely from lack of resources. The maternal mortality rate is 92 deaths for every 100,000 live births. The infant mortality rate is 18 deaths per 1,000 live births.2 According to research, the high maternal death rate in Dominican Republic reflects not so much limited access to care as much as the overextension of limited resources.3
ChildrenRoughly 50% of children in the Dominican Republic live in poverty.1 Furthermore, drug use increased tenfold between 1975 and 2005.Young children are strongly affected because they are the most likely to be targeted for child labor in the industry.2 Factors such as adult unemployment and a 30% general poverty rate have created a very unfavorable environment for children.3
AnimalsThe Dominican Republic falls under the Neotropical zone in the Caribbean. Birds known to be native to this area include the Hispaniolan parrot, the parakeet, the Hispaniolan lizard cuckoo, and the palm crow. Some major threats to the area include illegal forestry operations and migratory agricultural expansion.1
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