In the Dominican Republic, AJWS focuses on advancing the civil and political rights of those most affected by racism, including Haitian migrants and Dominicans of Haitian descent, who are discriminated against because of their skin color. We also work to enable women, girls and LGBTQI+ Dominicans to live with safety, health and dignity.

A human rights crisis is happening in the Dominican Republic, where nearly a quarter million people are being denied their fundamental right to a nationality. Read this blog post written by AJWS’s Lilach Shafir where she reflects on the injustices she and the AJWS Global Justice Fellows witnessed in the Dominican Republic.

The Problems

The Dominican Republic and Haiti share an island in the Caribbean, but the neighboring countries have a complex history. For nearly a century, Haitians have crossed the border into the Dominican Republic to search for economic opportunities. Despite the Dominican economy’s reliance on Haitian laborers, these migrants have often been greeted with discrimination and prejudice—including women like Daniela.

In 1937, the Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo ordered his army to kill Haitians in an attack known as El Corte, or “The Cutting.” Between 10,000 and 20,000 Haitians died in the massacre. More recently, in 2015, a man of Haitian descent was lynched, his body discovered hanging in a public park in the Dominican city of Santiago. The murder occurred just hours after a nearby group of Dominicans publicly burned a Haitian flag.

Dominican police routinely repress people of Haitian ancestry and, in some cases, deport them—even though many of them were born in the Dominican Republic and have never been to Haiti. In 2013, the Dominican Republic’s highest court stripped citizenship from tens of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent, leaving them stateless and unleashing an international outcry.

Women in the Dominican Republic face discrimination and drastic limits on their reproductive rights. LGBTQI+ people experience shaming and violence, often propagated by leaders in the Catholic Church, and dozens of transgender sex workers have been murdered in recent years.

Our Solutions

AJWS is committed to supporting the work of marginalized communities in the Dominican Republic to advocate for human rights. Our grantees are:

  • Using the courts and media advocacy to defend equal rights for Dominicans of Haitian descent
  • Educating marginalized communities about their human rights and helping them gain access to education, medical care, employment benefits and other critical services
  • Advocating for laws and policies to help end discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation or ethnic background
  • Empowering young people in marginalized groups to participate in political processes and civic life
  • Organizing communities to confront gender-based violence and discrimination
  • Building coalitions to advance sexual health agendas and shift social norms through communication strategies