When mentioning the Dominican Republic, many people think of expensive resorts and hotels, cruise ships, and pristine white sandy beaches. While the Dominican Republic does have it’s share of ideal tourist locations, the reality for this small island country is that so many of the general population live in abject poverty and hopelessness.
The most recent estimates indicate that more than 42% of the population live below the international poverty line (income of $1.25/day or less). Many families go days without clean water and food. It is estimated that almost 20% of Dominicans are living in extreme poverty. In rural areas poor people constitute half of the population
The poorest of the poor include Dominicans of Haitian origin living in the border areas. They are particularly vulnerable, and they suffer not only from low incomes and poor living conditions but also from social exclusion. In all groups, women who are heads of households and children are extremely vulnerable. Because they are without proper documentation such as birth certificates and identity papers, about 20% of the poorest Dominican families do not benefit from most types of social assistance programs.
The Dominican Republic is also a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. A large number of Dominican women are trafficked into prostitution and sexual exploitation throughout the Dominican Republic, the Caribbean, Europe, South America, the Middle East, and the United States.