DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – Submission to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child – 94th Session

The National Confederation of Rural Women (Confederación Nacional de Mujeres del Campo or CONAMUCA), Network of United Youth Voices (Red Juvenil Voces Unidas), the Coalition for Women’s Life and Dignity (Coalición por la Vida y la Dignidad de las mujeres), and Human Rights Watch write in advance of the 94th session of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (the “Committee”) and its review of the Dominican Republic. This submission addresses articles 3, 6, 24, 28, and 29 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and covers access to abortion and specific aspects of the right to education.

The total ban on abortion in the Dominican Republic, in effect since 1884, threatens the health and lives of girls, women, and other pregnant people, and is incompatible with the country’s international human rights obligations.

Abortion is illegal in the Dominican Republic even when a pregnancy is life-threatening, unviable or the result of sexual violence or incest. The criminal code in the Dominican Republic penalises girls, women, and other pregnant people who induce abortions and anyone who assists them. Under article 317 of the criminal code, doctors, surgeons, midwives, nurses, pharmacists, and “other medical professionals” who provide abortions face prison terms of 5-20 years. Pregnant girls, women, or others who induce or consent to abortions, and any individuals who relay information to others about obtaining an abortion, if the abortion occurs, face six months to two years in prison.

The submission calls not only for full decriminalisation of abortion but also mandatory sexuality education, research on the sexual and reproductive health needs of women and adolescent girls, public information and awareness-raising campaigns, strengthening of services for women and girls facing sexual violence, domestic violence and other forms of abuse, and much more.

SOURCE: Human Rights Watch News, 31 August 2023. The full text of the submission to the Committee on the Rights of the Child can be accessed here.