65% of Dominican teenagers have experienced sexual assault
According to data released last Tuesday by the United Nations Children’s Fund, 65% of Dominican teenagers between the ages of 15 and 17 have experienced sexual violence at some point in their life (Unicef). Unicef also referenced data from the Enhogar-MICS 2019 poll in a statement commemorating the International Day of the Girl, which shows that 20% of young Dominican women give birth to their first child before becoming 18 years old.
The figures rise to 34% for those who are most at risk and 49% for those who only complete elementary school. According to the note, one of the most concerning findings is that 2% of young women had children before the age of 15, and that abuse, incest, and sexual violence can frequently be concealed under this statistic.
In the Dominican Republic, there has been modest improvement in the statistics for young marriages including children under the age of 18, which dropped from 37% in 2014 to 32% in 2019. This number decreased from 60% (2014) to 49% among those with less financial means (2019). Early unions among minors under the age of 15 also decreased over this time, from 12% to 9%.
Despite this development, the country’s statistics are significantly higher than the norm for Latin America, where 22% of people under the age of 18 are either married or in a civil union. Rosa Elcarte, the resident representative of Unicef in the Dominican Republic, praised the country for certain improvements in girls’ rights, citing the Dominican Republic’s law against child marriage and its public health initiatives to avoid early couplings and teenage pregnancies.
To remove the disparity in rights between males and girls, she said, “there is a long way to go.”