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The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children

In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025                                                                                             

Dominican Republic

The country has long been viewed primarily as an exporter of sugar, coffee, and tobacco but in recent years the service sector has overtaken agriculture as the economy's largest employer due to growth in tourism and free trade zones. Although 2007 saw inflation around 6%, the rate grew to over 12% in 2008. High food prices, driven by the effects of consecutive tropical storms on agricultural products, and education prices were significant contributors to the jump.

Although the economy is growing at a respectable rate, high unemployment and underemployment remains an important challenge. The country suffers from marked income inequality; the poorest half of the population receives less than one-fifth of GNP, while the richest 10% enjoys nearly 40% of national income.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]


CAUTION:  The following links and accompanying text have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in the Dominican Republic.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated, misleading or even false.   No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of child prostitution are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring how children got started, how they survive, and how some succeed in leaving.  Perhaps your paper could focus on runaways and the abuse that led to their leaving.  Other factors of interest might be poverty, rejection, drug dependence, coercion, violence, addiction, hunger, neglect, etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the manipulative and dangerous adults who control this activity.  There is a lot to the subject of Child Prostitution.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.

HELP for Victims

International Organization for Migration
688 8174
Country code: 1 809-



Study By Profamilia In Dominican Republic Highlights Threats To Children

The Associated Press AP, November 29, 2003

[accessed 8 May 2011]

Profamilia and MAIS say many parents know their children are prostitutes, but in some cases the families encourage it to ease their crushing poverty. The country has been known for years as a sex tourism destination.  "In some nightclubs one can find brochures with pictures of naked children and phone numbers for taxi drivers that will take them to child prostitutes," said Maria Josefina Paulino of MAIS.


*** ARCHIVES ***

ECPAT Country Monitoring Report [PDF]

ECPAT International, 2006

[accessed 27 August 2020]


Desk review of existing information on the sexual exploitation of children (SEC) in the Dominican Republic. The report looks at protection mechanisms, responses, preventive measures, child and youth participation in fighting SEC, and makes recommendations for action against SEC.

Human Rights Reports » 2019 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 10, 2020

[accessed 27 August 2020]

SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF CHILDREN - The law defines statutory rape as sexual relations with anyone younger than age 18. NGOs noted that due to the law that allows marriage with parental consent for girls as young as 15, some men arrange to marry girls to avoid prosecution for statutory rape. Penalties for conviction of statutory rape are 10 to 20 years in prison and a fine of 100,000 to 200,000 pesos ($2,000 to $4,000).

Children were exploited for commercial sex, particularly in coastal, tourist locations and major urban areas. The government conducted programs to combat the sexual exploitation of minors.

2018 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, US Dept of Labor, 2019

[accessed 22 August 2020]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

[page 439]

Children in the Dominican Republic engage in commercial sexual exploitation, particularly in coastal, tourist locations. The porous border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic has allowed some Haitian children to be trafficked into the Dominican Republic, where they have been engaged in commercial sexual exploitation and forced to work in agriculture, domestic work, street vending, or begging. (1-3,14,24,31,32)

The Department of Labor’s 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2005

[accessed 2 February 2011]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - The commercial sexual exploitation of children is reported to be a problem in urban areas, as well as in tourist locations throughout the country including Boca Chica, Puerto Plata and Sosua. According to a study published by UNICEF and the National Planning Office in 1999, 75 percent of minors involved in prostitution were working in brothels, discos, restaurants, and hotels. There are reports that women and children are trafficked to, from, and within the Dominican Republic, particularly for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. There are also reports that poor children are trafficked internally to work as domestics. Haitian children are reportedly trafficked to the Dominican Republic[1329] to work as prostitutes, shoe shiners, street vendors, in agriculture, and to beg in the streets. There are also reports that young Dominican girls are trafficked to Haiti to work as prostitutes.

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 26 January 2001

[accessed 27 February 2011]

[47] While noting the creation of the National Inter-Agency Commission for the Prevention and Eradication of Child Prostitution in Tourist Centers, the Committee expresses its concern at the absence of data and of a comprehensive study on the issue of sexual commercial exploitation and sexual abuse of children, as well as at the lack of implementation of the National Plan of Action to address this issue. In addition, the Committee expresses its deep concern at the increase of the number of children in the State party suffering from sexual commercial exploitation, apparently often related to sex tourism.

Concluding Observations of the Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights

International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, 12/12/1997

[accessed 19 September 2011]

[22] With respect to Article 10 of the Covenant, the Committee expresses its concern about the situation of children in the Dominican Republic and, in particular, about reports received on the occurrence of child labor and child exploitation, including sexual exploitation, about the increasing number of street children, the low rate of school enrolment, the high rate of infant mortality and the high number of pregnancies among school-age females.

International thugs overrun Dominican Republic, Libre says

Dominican Today, Santo Domingo, 8 August 2008

[accessed 8 May 2011]

“A National Statistic Office report in March revealed that from 2002 to 2005 more than 800 foreigners were prosecuted on drug charges, and there are also foreigners in child prostitution and abuse are also frequent,” it said.

Moreover, it cites a Government Commission Against Child Abuse and Sexual Exploitation of 2003, which found that 65 percent of the molestation cases in Boca Chica and Puerto Plata are committed by foreigners. “One of the most scandalous cases in that type of crime was that of a group of Spaniards arrested in 2006, charged with being part of a network of child prostitution on the Internet. The group came to the country as simple visitors and operated in tourist areas.”

30,000 Haitian children smuggled annually

Nov 8, 2005 -- Source: China Daily

[accessed 2 February 2011]

Around 30,000 Haitian children are illegally smuggled into the Dominican Republic every year to work as child prostitutes or be forced into other degrading occupations, UN and Organization of American States (OAS) officials said on Sunday.  In Haiti itself, children are recruited as gang members or are tortured, kidnapped, sexually and physically abused, abandoned and traded like personal property.

Haitian Children Sold as Slave Laborers and Prostitutes

Gary Younge in Santo Domingo, The Guardian, September 22, 2005

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 14 September 2011]

On market day in Dajabón, a bustling Dominican town on the Haitian border, you can pick up many bargains if you know where to look. You can haggle the price of a live chicken down to 40 pesos (72p); wrestle 10lb of macaroni from 60 to 50 pesos; and, with some discreet inquiries, buy a Haitian child for the equivalent of £54.22.

There is a thriving trade in Haitian children in the Dominican Republic, where they are mostly used for domestic service, agricultural work or prostitution. - htcp

Five Years After Stockholm [PDF]

ECPAT: Fifth Report on implementation of the Agenda for Action

ECPAT International, November 2001

[accessed 13 September 2011]

[B] COUNTRY UPDATES – DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – The National Plan of Action in the Dominican Republic has resulted in CSEC being included in the agendas of state institutions and especially the Organismo Rector del Sistema de Protección, the main state body in charge of the protection of children.  The most important sign of progress in the Dominican Republic has been the fact that CSEC is now accepted as both a problem and a serious crime by the community and by the state. As a consequence, the government has recognised the need to take action against the problem.

Report by Special Rapporteur [DOC]

UN Economic and Social Council Commission on Human Rights, Fifty-ninth session, 6 January 2003$FILE/G0310090.doc

[accessed 8 May 2011]

[38] The sale, trafficking and use of children in prostitution and pornography are criminal offences for which the child victim bears no criminal liability, but may be subject to detention for his or her protection.  Particular problems in the country include the situation of street children, commercial sexual exploitation, domestic abuse and children in conflict with the law.  The National Plan to Guarantee the Rights of the Child and Adolescent has placed particular emphasis on tackling these concerns.

MAIS - Movimiento Para el Autodesarrollo Internacional de la Solidaridad de Puerto Plata

Movement for International Self-Development and Solidarity (MAIS), Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 8 May 2011]

BACKGROUND - Movimiento Para el Autodesarrollo Internacional de la Solidaridad (MAIS) is a non-profit organization, founded in 1998 in Puerta Plata, Dominican Republic. It works with youth in especially difficult circumstances, as well as with their families. The primary objectives of MAIS are to help the children stay in school; provide dignity in the lives of children; and prevent the abuse and mistreatment of children, as well as child prostitution.

ACTIVITIES - In this reporting period, MAIS administered care to 68 children in high risk situations (children who are out of school, or in school but doing poorly, victims of sexual abuse or those who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation); and dealt with 39 cases of sexual violence against children and 6 cases of sexual exploitation of children of a commercial nature. MAIS also facilitated 4 workshops for adolescents at high risk, children sexually exploited in a commercial context, and young single mothers.

Success Stories - Elvia in the Dominican Republic

Movement for International Self-Development and Solidarity (MAIS), Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 8 May 2011]

Elvia, along with hundreds of other impoverished children in her community, must make a difficult choice between pursuing her education or earning a living in order to support herself. Sadly, with little incentive or encouragement to stay in poorly funded schools and few legitimate opportunities to earn money, girls such as Elvia are easily lured into Puerto Plata’s lucrative sex tourism industry.

Crime and Society - A Comparative Criminology Tour of the World

Dr. Robert Winslow, San Diego State University

[accessed 8 May 2011]

CHILDREN - Sexual exploitation of children is a problem. Some in the tourist industry have facilitated the sexual exploitation of children; particular areas of concern are Boca Chica and Puerto Plata. Tours are marketed by foreigners overseas with the understanding that boys and girls can be found as sex partners.

Child Brothel Owners Arrested

Summarized from a TV News Report, Univision Network, 2004-04-28

[accessed 8 May 2011]

arrest of a ring of child brothel owners in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, which included the mothers of some of the teen victims.

Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) - Press Release

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child Press Release, 24 January 2001

[accessed 8 May 2011]

Over the course of the meeting, Committee members commented that child prostitution was a double concern because of the involvement of children in prostitution and the increase in cases of HIV/AIDS; while tourism was encouraged as a source of income to the Dominican Republic, child prostitution was increasing parallel to it, the Experts said.

Protection Project - Country Report [DOC]

The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), The Johns Hopkins University

[accessed 2009]

FORMS OF TRAFFICKING - The Dominican Republic is one of the most popular sex tourism destinations in the world, and it is advertised on the Internet as a “single man’s paradise.”  The major centers of tourism are Luperón, Sosua, Cabarete, and Río San Juan.  The sex industry in the Dominican Republic is thriving, with an estimated 50,000 women in prostitution in Santo Domingo alone who provide a stream of income to brothel owners, corrupt police and other officials, taxi drivers, and hotel guards. At least 25,000 of the women in prostitution throughout the Dominican Republic are reportedly underage, with the total number of women in prostitution in the country estimated by some to be 100,000.  It is common to see men from developed countries accompanied by Dominican girls.

Situation Of Minors In The Dominican Republic

Organization of American States OAS Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, "Report On The Situation Of Human Rights In The Dominican Republic", 7 October 1999 -- OEA/Ser.L/V/II.104, Doc. 49 rev. 1

[accessed 8 May 2011]

E. CHILD PROSTITUTION  -  425. In the Dominican Republic, there is a considerable population of minors for whom the streets have become home, who have faced a hostile world from an early age.  Most "street children" beg as a means of subsistence; one-third turn to robbery and other means to get by, such as selling drugs; and approximately one-fifth engage in prostitution.

427. UNICEF notes that a total of 25,455 minors are employed as prostitutes, and that of that total, 14,508 (57%) practice prostitution in the areas in which they had gone to school. The study also indicates that two of every three minors who work as prostitutes are females, and one in three is male. - sccp

Dominican Republic - Thematic Reports

E/CN.4/1998/101, para. 15

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 8 May 2011]

SALE OF CHILDREN, CHILD PROSTITUTION, CHILD PORNOGRAPHY, SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON THE - In the section on sex tourism, the report refers to allegations that over 30,000 children in the Dominican Republic work as prostitutes to escape poverty. Most of these children no longer live with their parents because they have either been thrown out or prefer to work on the streets to earn a living for themselves or their families. Minors who engage in this trade are common in Santo Domingo and other tourist zones such as Boca Chica and Puerto Plata.

Treaties and Reports to Treaty Bodies

“For the Record 1997” Vol.4

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 8 May 2011]

Concern was also expressed over ... reports received on the occurrence of child labour and child exploitation, including sexual exploitation; the increasing number of street children; the low rate of school enrolment ...




Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 8 February 2020]

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS - Within the country, the prostitution of minors, primarily in the tourist areas, was a problem. An official 2003 study estimated that 50 to 60 Haitian children were trafficked into the country each week and that many Haitian girls age 12 and older were brought into the country to work as prostitutes.

In April DNI dismantled a child prostitution and pornography ring in Sosua that had posted sexually explicit photos of young children on the Internet. Police arrested two men. At the request of the attorney general, police closed down several bars, nightclubs, and "massage parlors" in Santiago, Santo Domingo, and Boca Chica used for child prostitution and sexual exploitation of women.

In May a judge convicted and sentenced 3 men to 15 years in prison under the anti-trafficking law for sexually exploiting 24 children in Boca Chica in 2004. As of October a fourth suspect was in detention and awaiting trial.

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