Avoiding the sex industry in the Dominican Republic

The sex industry is alive and well in the Dominican Republic, the prostitution rate per capita is one of the highest in the world.

Travellers will see legal brothels, massage parlours and prostitutes in many of the downtown areas such as the Puerto Plata province and Santo Domingo.
The Dominican Republic also ranks fourth highest in the world among countries exporting large numbers of sex workers.

Poverty and prostitution in the Dominican Republic

The issue can be explained by the country's high poverty rate, a quarter of the population lives in below the bread line, which makes many women turn to sex work to put food on the table.

If traveling to the country around the Christmas holidays, you'll probably see a large number of girls working to make money to buy gifts. Male prostitutes are also common and contribute to the country's high rate of HIV and AIDS infection.

The south coast's Boca Chica and the north coast's Sosua are the two big areas for prostitution. These locations typically look like your average tourist locales during the day. At night, the prostitutes are easy to find, with many sex workers mixing into bars and clubs and appearing like everyday Dominican women. Many are looking precisely for relatively well-off travellers.

Tender traps in the Dominican Republic

Males are also able to go to strip clubs and pay an 'exit fee' to the establishment to take a prostitute back to their hotels or resorts. But watch out, it's not uncommon for girls to rob their clients. Others may pickpocket men on the street.

Some of the sex workers start up long-distance relationships after the tourists return home. Of course, the women are trying to get these men to send them money and most likely have a stable of similar suitors wiring them cash from various locations while they continue working the streets of the D.R.

Hassling and haggling in the Dominican Republic

Regardless of your opinions on the practice of prostitution, if you're a man out without a woman, you'll get harassed to buy the services of a lady in certain parts of town.

If you're a woman, be prepared to see hustlers haggling and prostitutes persuading. Many travellers do, in fact, go to the D.R. to enjoy paid sex, so many prostitutes and hustlers figure any tourist can be easily convinced to do the same. A male traveler said he traveled solo to the D.R. in his mid-20s and didn't feel completely out of harm's way. He was harassed constantly at night by hustlers and prostitutes who went so far as to grope him to entice him to seek their services.

If approached by a prostitute, saying "No" firmly and walking away may suffice.

Anyone who does decide to seek out this side of the country should know the age of consent is 18, and those found to have sex with minors can face punishment in the D.R. and their home country.

Travellers posting in Lonely Planet forums said females, particularly those traveling alone, should expect Dominican men to be aggressive in their pick-up approach. One poster recommended acting tough and being firm in your "No" response. Women should be prepared for this type of behaviour especially in local bars and nightclubs outside the resort areas.

1 Comment

  • Lex said

    There's a fine line between being firm and "acting tough". Third world countries aren't the West. If you act tough you may have to back it up.

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