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Dominican Women Prisoners Strike for Conjugal Visits
The position taken by the court and prison authorities was that the women were simply upset because they would no longer be able to have sexual relations with their counterparts in the men's section. They allege that the men paid for the women's "services" and, as a result, a sort of generalized disorder surrounded sexual activity within the prison. Six women had only recently become pregnant and six children born previously lived in the prison with their mothers. The entire situation had evidently caused the Public Ministry no small amount of distress; its solution had been the construction of the wall against which the women protested.
In this context it should be pointed out that conjugal visits, allowed in only a few states in the United States (New York, California, New Mexico, Mississippi and Washington), are the norm in most other countries.
By early December, the Commissioner for the Reform and Modernization of Justice, Enrique García, had turned a pavilion over to the Department of Prisons. At a cost of $1.65 million, it was provided with 20 cells and 80 beds, a meeting room and a wash room There, as García, put it, " the verb `to love' could be conjugated." Each women prisoner would each be allowed relations with one previously designated partner. The Department of Prisons would be responsible for implementing the controls necessary to register conjugal partners, to determine how often conjugal meetings would be allowed and whatever medical procedures might be necessary.
"With the opening of this section of conjugal cells the country places itself among the most developed nations that give facilities to their women prisoners so that they may maintain intimate relations with their legally identified companions," said García. He does not, evidently, consider the colossus directly to the north of his country to be among the most developed nations. Many, both inside and outside of U.S. prisons would agree.
Source: Periódico Hoy , Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
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