Last week, local police mobilized to perform two rescue operations and protect four survivors of violence. The survivors range in age from 6 to 14 years old and are now safe. Authorities arrested one person so far and are investigating two others.
The first rescue was carried out on Thursday, July 16, after the police received an anonymous call reporting that three minors were left alone from the early hours of the morning until late at night. The three sisters were found in deplorable conditions inside a cistern under construction. They had signs of physical violence and two of them were wrapped in thin blankets and frightened. The survivors told local authorities that they suffered physical abuse from their parents.
On Saturday July 18, local authorities held a second operation in which a 14-year-old was rescued. Police arrested a 38- year-old man, her stepfather, who for 10 years had been sexually assaulting her. The survivor’s mother filed a complaint and the police brought the suspect to the Public Ministry, who will prosecute him.
Both rescues were spearheaded by officials from the Department of Human Trafficking, the Specialized Prosecutor's Office against the Smuggling of Migrants and Human Trafficking, and CONANI (Dominican Child Welfare Agency). IJM and Destiny Rescue assisted the government officials.
The four minors are currently safe, the three sisters have been moved to a safe home run by the government, while authorities evaluate next steps, the 14-year old remains safely in the custody of her mother.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dominican authorities have increased their operations to rescue children and adolescents who are victims of violence. IJM is committed to continue supporting local authorities to bring rescue and restoration for survivors of violence and help bring transformation within the public justice system so perpetrators are held accountable.