Dominican Republic - Social development

Social assistance is administered by the Dominican Social Insurance Institute, which operates benefit programs dealing with sickness, disability, survivors' and workers' compensation, occupational disease, maternity, incapacity, and old age. The social insurance program is funded, in principle, by compulsory contributions from employees (2.5% of earnings), employers (7.5% of payroll), and the government (2.5% of employee earnings and any remaining deficit). Retirement is set at age 60 for both men and women.

Women continue to have lower economic and social status than men. They are often paid less for similar work and occupy few top leadership positions. Employers avoid hiring pregnant women, and some administer pregnancy tests to job applicants. Divorce is easily obtainable by either spouse and women can own property in their own name. Domestic violence and sexual harassment are common. There are no shelters available for battered women.

Haitian immigrants, many of whom are low paid agricultural workers, face considerable discrimination. An estimated half million live under harsh conditions in special camps for sugar cane workers. Some persons of Haitian ancestry with rights to Dominican citizenship may have been expelled along with undocumented Haitians. Reports of mistreatment of Haitian migrant workers continue.

Documented human rights violations include police brutality, arbitrary detention, and mistreatment of suspects in custody. Nongovernmental human rights organizations are permitted to operate.

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