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Dominican Republic

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New Grants

Cámara de Comercio y de Producción de Santiago, Inc. (CCPS), $58,700 for a two-year project in cooperation with the Centro de la Juventud y de la Cultura. Through the project, university students will offer training and technical assistance to 75 micro-entrepreneurs in Santiago’s Cienfuegos neighborhood and consultants will offer specialized technological assistance. A government agency will provide training in general business skills and assistance in accessing a local micro-enterprise loan fund. (DR-323)

Centro de Servicios Legales para la Mujer (CENSEL), $224,775 for a three-year project offering training and services in domestic violence prevention and mitigation to approximately 1,150 low-income women, public officials and teachers in the eastern part of the province of Santo Domingo. The grant will also support seminars, outreach, institutional strengthening and the general range of activities offered to poor women through contracting a fundraiser and the development of a fee structure for those clients who can afford to pay for services. (DR-325) 

Addressing Domestic Violence  

By Eduardo Rodríguez-Frías
Program Staff Assistant for the Caribbean and El Salvador

Recurring headlines in major newspapers confirm that domestic violence is a pervasive problem in the Dominican Republic. In 2001 alone, intra-family murders took the lives of 131 women. This translates to approximately one such death every 60 hours, often at the hands of a someone with a record of abuse. Some of these homicides might have been prevented, according to a recent article by Doris Pantaleón, but police chose instead to ignore a dispute they considered strictly between a husband and his wife. And murder statistics are only one feature of a wider pattern of physical, psychological and sexual abuse in domestic settings.

Centro de Servicios Legales para la Mujer (CENSEL) is a nongovernmental organization that extends legal and psychological services to victims of domestic violence in the province of Santo Domingo. CENSEL also offers training in violence prevention and the law to victims, community leaders and government employees, including judicial personnel. Since its formation in 1984, CENSEL has become a reference point for other NGOs, government offices, prosecutors and private attorneys. Although its services clearly sustain victims of domestic violence, allowing them to get on with their lives, CENSEL cannot sustain itself as an institution. It is dependent on foreign donors and, to a lesser extent, on the Dominican government. Funding is limited where activities appear unlikely to become self-supporting, and it can shrink even further if donor fatigue sets in.

CENSEL’s goal is to become stronger as an institution and to attain a level of sustainability. With its award, it will learn to raise funds from the private sector and to develop a fee structure for clients who can afford to pay. Taking these steps toward self-sufficiency will allow CENSEL to continue its services for victims of domestic violence as well as its prevention programs and to expand its range of training seminars and conferences directed at teachers, medical professionals, police, attorneys and government officials.