Prostitution in the Dominican Republic

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Prostitution in the Dominican Republic is legal, but related activities such as brothel-keeping or pimping are illegal.[1][2] However, prostitution laws are generally not enforced.[1][2][3] It is estimated that between 6,000 and 10,000 women work as prostitutes in the country,[4] with many of the sex workers coming from neighboring Haiti.[4] The population of illegal Haitian migrants in the country is particularly vulnerable to exploitation.[5][6]

Sex Tourism[edit]

The Dominican Republic has gained a reputation of being a major destination for international sex tourism,[2][7] 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.[1][8] Haitian immigrants also take part in the sex tourism business, with many of the prostitutes in some areas being of Haitian descent.[9][10] At sex tourism sites the lighter Dominicans are favored over darker Haitians,[11] who are forced to work in the streets or local bars rather than the more lucrative up-scale areas.[11]

Underage prostitution is a problem, particularly in some urban areas within coastal towns,[12][13] but there has been a decrease in child prostitution since 2001, with the increase in policing and the decrease in corruption.[14][15] The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement has started prosecuting individuals who are engaging in child prostitution.[16] 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.[17]


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.[18]

Sex Trafficking[edit]

According to the US Department of State, the Dominican Republic is a source, transit and destination country for human trafficking.[19] Women and children from neighboring Haiti are specially vulnerable to trafficking due to the prevalence of "Restavek" child slavery in Haitian culture, which affects approximately 300,000 Haitian children.[20][21]

Women from other parts of the Caribbean, Asia, South America, and Eastern Europe to a lesser extent have also been known to be trafficked into the country for Forced prostitution.[19] Colombian and Venezuelan women who had been brought into the country to dance in strip clubs are forced to work in prostitution in some tourist areas.

Dominican women are also subjected to sex trafficking within the island, the rest of the Caribbean, Europe, South and Central America, the Middle East, Asia and the United States.[19] After the 2010 Haiti earthquake, some Dominican sex workers crossed over the border into Haiti, searching out clients amongst the aid workers and UN personnel.[22] Dominican women are paid a premium because of their lighter skin.[22]

The United States Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons ranks the Dominican Republic as a 'Tier 2' country.[23]


According to a 1998 report in Sosua the women of this town usually have a choice to make a choice between working with locals or the tourist each having their own pros and cons. When working with locals compared to the tourists there is less risk and they are able to sustain a poor but stable lifestyle.[24] However working with tourist and living outside of the local bars provides them with freedom away from the bar owners but they are put through financial stress to make the rent on their own.[24] Sex tourism in the Dominican Republic can be viewed as more than an exchange of typical money for sex. Many of these sexual relations end up being more toward romance and these woman tend to refer to their regular clients as boyfriends. The relationships can end up being more than just about sex and can in turn become a relationship where these women gain financial gift or support from their regular clients.[25] These women have little to no control over their clients but almost all are in search of a husband to better their livelihoods. Many of these women are in overcrowded homes with limited space plumbing and technology.[26] Generally if a woman is capable of securing these men to the point where the men are providing these gifts on a consistent basis it would be considered "marriage" to these women. Many of these marriages are more like social contracts in a sense where the two individuals act as if they were married but no official papers.[26] These woman tend to place these men on higher pedestals ignoring the wrongdoings these men may commit due to the fantasy of having the man that will treat them well.[26] Many of these women enter this work in search of an official marriage despite the rumors of being pimped out by the European men due to the life style these men can provide and the hatred or superior complex over local men. [24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "100 Countries and Their Prostitution Policies". Procon. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  2. ^ a b c "The Legal Status of Prostitution by Country". Chartsbin. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  3. ^ "2009 Human Rights Report: Dominican Republic". 11 March 2010. Archived from the original on 16 March 2010. Retrieved 12 October 2013.
  4. ^ a b "Popular Caribbean Sex Tourism Destinations". News America. 27 May 2016. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
  5. ^ "Haitian children sold as cheap labourers and prostitutes for little more than £50".
  6. ^ "Human Trafficking".
  7. ^ Jennings, Kathleen M.; Nikolić-Ristanović, Vesna (September 2009). "UN Peacekeeping Economies and Local Sex Industries: Connections and Implications" (PDF). MicroCon. Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 August 2010. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
  8. ^ "2008 Human Rights Report: Dominican Republic". Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. U.S. Department of State. Archived from the original on 26 February 2009. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  9. ^ Gerardo Reyes (24 October 2010). "Sex tourism thrives on Dominican streets with Haitian girls". Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  10. ^ "Latin American Herald Tribune - Dominican Republic Deports 163 Haitians". Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  11. ^ a b McCabe, Kimberly Ann; Manian, Sabita (12 April 2010). Sex Trafficking: A Global Perspective. p. 124. ISBN 9780739147283. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  12. ^ "Sex, tourism and HIV. A hazardous association in the Dominican Republic". NLM Gateway. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  13. ^ "Sex Tourism in Latin America". Harvard University. Archived from the original on 5 July 2010. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  14. ^ "Situation of minors in the dominican republic". Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
  15. ^ "Child Sex Tourism in the Dominican Republic" (PDF). ECPAT. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 September 2008. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  16. ^ "USVI predator pleads guilty to sex tourism charges following ICE investigation". U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  17. ^ Moloney, Anastasia (16 June 2017). "Child sex tourists do 'dirty business' with impunity in Dominican Republic". Reuters. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
  18. ^ Cohen, Jon (28 July 2006). "The Sun. The Sand. The Sex". Science. 313 (5786): 474. doi:10.1126/science.313.5786.474. PMID 16873643.
  19. ^ a b c "Trafficking in Persons Report 2017" (PDF). US Department of State. 2017. Retrieved 12 December 2017. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  20. ^ Kennedy, C. L. (2014). "Toward Effective Intervention for Haiti's Former Child Slaves". Human Rights Quarterly. 36 (4): 756–778. doi:10.1353/hrq.2014.0059. S2CID 144412249.
  21. ^ Sommerfelt, Tone (October 2014). "Child Domestic Workers in Haiti 2014" (PDF).[permanent dead link]
  22. ^ a b Carmon, Irin (8 February 2010). "Dominican Prostitutes In Haiti: Prized For Their Light Skin, Patronized By Peacekeepers". Jezebel. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  23. ^ "Dominican Republic 2018 Trafficking in Persons Report". U.S. Department of State. Archived from the original on 28 July 2018. Retrieved 27 July 2018.
  24. ^ a b c Brennan DE, editor. (1998). Everything Is for Sale Here: Sex Tourism in Sosúa, the Dominican Republic. New Haven, CT: Yale University.
  25. ^ Padilla, Mark B.; Guilamo-Ramos, Vincent; Bouris, Alida; Reyes, Armando Matiz (January 2010). "HIV/AIDS and Tourism in the Caribbean: An Ecological Systems Perspective". American Journal of Public Health. 100 (1): 70–77. doi:10.2105/ajph.2009.161968. ISSN 0090-0036. PMC 2791250. PMID 19910343.
  26. ^ a b c "Imagining and Experiencing Sosúa", What’s Love Got to Do with It?, Duke University Press, pp. 51–87, 2004, doi:10.1215/9780822385400-003, ISBN 978-0-8223-3259-6, retrieved 23 September 2021