Santo Domingo, March 21st 2017. The Dominican Republic, followed by Nicaragua, has the highest rate of Forced Marriage and Relationships among girls in Latin American and the Caribbean.
The findings come from a study prepared by Plan International Dominican Republic (Plan DR), using data from the provinces of Azua, Barahona, San Juan, Pedernales, and Elías Piña.
“Forced child marriage is one in which at least one of the two spouse is a boy or girl, and it’s held without the full and free consent of at least one of the spouses. According to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a boy / girl is any person under the age of 18 years,” affirmed Raquel Casares, of Plan DR.
According to the data from ENHOGAR MICS 2014 in the Dominican Republic, 12.5% of Dominican women between the ages of 20 and 49 years old, were married or united with their partners before the age of 15; 37% were married or united before turning 18. Currently, one out of every 5 adolescent girls between the ages of 15 to 19 is married or in a relationship with a man 10 years older.
“Although many people may think that a girl that is married or is in a relationship is because she has free choice, the study found that this liberty is not present. Forced Child Marriage is the result of domestic violence, the expectation of emancipation, or the opportunity of negotiation that families establish as an opportunity to escape poverty,” said Jeannette Tineo, author of the investigation.
Also, the study found that Forced Child Marriage has a very strong link to teenage pregnancy: “Of the 10 girls and adolescents’ s married to adult men that were interviewed, seven were pregnant when they got married,” Tineo said.
To address this problem, Plan International DR proposes a Public Policy initiative to that the State can strengthen the protection girls and adolescents. “We demand congressional review of the Civil Code to raise the minimum age of marriage or free union to 18 years of age for both sexes, without exception,” said Casares.
Plan International DR will work closely together with the communities in the study, youth groups, and various committees of Congress to ensure that this proposed change in legislation becomes a reality. “The Dominican Estate must honor the international commitments it has signed in the field of protection of the children, putting an end to the impunity of the aggressors who are taking refuge in a marriage, and providing opportunities for girls to develop a worthy life project”.