Prostitution in the Dominican Republic
Prostitution in the Dominican Republic is legal, but related activities such as brothel-keeping or pimping are illegal. However, prostitution laws are generally not enforced. It is estimated between 60,000 and 100,000 women work as prostitutes in the country, many from neighbouring Haiti.
The Dominican Republic has gained a reputation of being a major destination for international sex tourism, although the activity is mostly concentrated in poor coastal towns (especially Las Terrenas, Cabarete, Sosua, and Boca Chica), where women have less economic opportunities than in larger towns and cities of the country. Haitian immigrants also take part in the sex tourism business, with many of the prostitutes in some areas being of Haitian descent. At sex tourism sites the lighter Dominicans are favored over darker Haitians, who are forced to work in the streets or local bars rather than the more lucrative up-scale areas. Child sex tourism is a problem in the country.
Underage prostitution is a problem, particularly in some urban areas within coastal towns, but there has been a decrease in child prostitution since 2001, with the increase in policing and the decrease in corruption. The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement has started prosecuting individuals who are engaging in child prostitution. A 2015 study by the International Justice Mission found a quarter of sex workers working on the streets, in parks and on beaches were under 18 years old.
The prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the Dominican Republic is estimated to be 0.7 percent, which is relatively low by Caribbean standards. However, the percentage among sex workers is estimated to be much higher, ranging from 2.5% to 12.4%, depending on the locale.
According to the US Department of State, the Dominican Republic is a source, transit and destination country for human trafficking. Women and children from neighbouring Haiti, the rest of the Caribbean, Asia, and South America are trafficked into the country for Forced prostitution. Colombian and Venezuelan women who had been brought into the country to dance in strip clubs are forced to work in prostitution.
Dominican women and children are subjected to sex trafficking within the country, neighbouring Haiti, the rest of the Caribbean, Europe, South and Central America, the Middle East, Asia and the United States.
After the 2010 Haiti earthquake, many Dominican prostitutes crossed over the border into Haiti, searching out clients amongst the aid workers and UN personnel. Dominican women are paid a premium because of their lighter skin.
The United States Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons ranks the Dominican Republic as a 'Tier 2' country.
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