By Davinder Kumar | Aljazeera
it is already a struggle for Altagracia to carry on living. Each time she looks at herself in the mirror all she can see is the deep scars on her face and stomach. Inflicting grievous wounds, her machete brandishing former partner was adamant to finish her off. Seeing her bleed profusely, he left for her dead and disappeared.
Behind the veneer of glorious sunshine and sandy beaches, the holiday resort nation of the Dominican Republic is grappling with brutal killings and violent attacks on young girls and women.
Every two days, sometimes each day, a woman is killed in an act of violence. For an island nation of nearly ten million, more thsn a thousand women have been killed in the past five years. In the majority of cases, the perpetrators were intimate partners of victims.
From plush urban enclaves to deprived rural counties, “machismo” pervades many communities in the Dominican Republic. A by-word for ultra-masculinity, “machismo” has come to be regarded as a natural attribute of “tough men” who often dominate women with unprovoked aggression and violence as a way of life. From alcohol, drugs, anger to jealously, dispute or just a bad day – anything can serve as a trigger for some men to unleash violence on women.
For the majority of women, escape can be very difficult. The dependence of many here on male partners for financial and emotional support often means they continue to suffer in silence. Those who dare to speak out often face the spectre of being left on their own, risking further backlash and reprisals.
National legislation against violence is in place and international human rights law is clear that states have a duty to exercise due diligence to prevent, prosecute and punish violence against women. However, critics say there isn’t enough meaningful protection, as women continue to suffer violence on a daily basis – while the majority of perpetrators go unpunished.