Every country has its own vision of prostitution and the Dominican Republic is no exception. The Dominican Republic ranks fourth in the world in the per capita amount of prostitution trailing only Brazil, Thailand and the Philippines. The quantity however is not only a function of need.
Prostitution is technically legal in the Dominican Republic. Pimping is not. But if the girls get too aggressive in tourist areas, there are times when the police arrest some of them especially when they are alone on the streets after dark. The girls are kept for a short time, fined and released back to their life on the streets, an occupational hazard.
There are many poor people in the Dominican Republic. Over 25% of the population lives below the poverty line. The level of education is very low and most of the people living in the "Campo" (countryside) stop attending school at a young age. Upward social mobility is limited or virtually nil. Unemployment hovers around17% and many of those with a job earn a pittance.
There is a high rate of teenage pregnancies and fatherless families are extremely common. It is not surprising that with so little hope of present and future opportunities, many Dominican women see apparently rich foreign men as a chance for economic and/or social gain.
The common misconception is that the majority of Dominican working girls operate in tourist areas, but it is not so. Most of their customers are in fact Dominican men, regulars at the cabanas. Cabanas are short stay motels, but the Dominican version goes far beyond the seedy image of “no tell motels” in the USA. Many are gaudy palaces where clients drive directly into a private, personal one-car garage with automatic doors, all the better to discreetly conceal their automobiles identity. From there one enters a well-appointed room with full bath, amble bed, and copious mirrors. Food and beverage service is forthcoming, sometimes through pneumatic tubes or a revolving door contraption that conceals and protects the privacy of the amorous couple from the serving staff
Sex, even more so than baseball, is the national sport of the Dominican Republic. Years before sex tourism became an attraction, the level of extramarital affairs in the DR was extraordinary. Making love with numerous partners was the norm. And if the women receive gifts before parting, so much the better.
Sometimes, just before Christmas, quite a number of non pros, really just mainstream girls will work the tourist trade or at the Cabanas, in an attempt to earn some fast money for the holidays before returning to their regular lives.
There are a couple of tourist destinations that have become famous for hooking up with attractive young Dominican girls: Boca Chica on the south coast, and Sosua on the north coast. Both of these towns are beach communities replete with surfside clubs and bars offering shade from the sun, a chaise lounge, food and drink. A steady stream of daytime beach hawkers selling everything from manicures and massages to all sorts of food and touristic trinkets hustles by. They are joined by a legion of scantily clad attractive young women forming a human circus parade.
The procession continues at night as restaurants and bars spill out unto the street forming a pedestrian mall with Dominican girls looking for a tourist to spend an hour, a night, perhaps the whole vacation, or an entire life. The Discos fill up later at night with a vision of pounding, pulsating pulchritude swinging and swaying to salsa sounds.
In addition, there are strip clubs, brothels, and massage parlors. The clubs allows a customer to take a girl out of the facility by paying a "salida" or an exit fee. The client is free to take the girl to diner, a disco, or their hotel, usually is not a problem, since most of the hotels in Boca Chica and Sosua permit visitors with the caveat that the girl has a "cedula", the national identity document that indicates that she is at least 18 years old the legal minimum. It is common hotel practice to require a cedula, taking it when the girl enters and returning it when she leaves. In this way, if a problem occurs such as a petty theft, the hotel can identify the girl and call the police. This works well to everyone’s protection.
Not Just For Men: Over the last decade or so an increasing number of women from Europe and the Americas have come to the Dominican Republic looking for handsome and virile young men. It is not uncommon to see them holding hands or entwined together on a beach chaise lounge. While walking along the beach last Sunday this writer observed an almost equal number of Gringas cavorting with Macho Dominicanos as there were Gringos with Dominicanas. To turn an aphorism on its head, “What’s fair for the gander is fair for the goose.”
At night you mainly see working girls. They are mostly in their late teens or early twenties. Some are locals but many come from the surrounding countryside, the Capital or nearby cities.
Most of these young women have one or more children by a Dominican man, who in the vast majority of cases have abandoned the family, leaving women to raise their children alone. While the girls are working, this responsibility is entrusted to the mother and grandmother. The cycle is repeated frequently from generation to generation.
They have come to understand that they can make a whole lot more money with tourists, especially if they offer an illusion of love and not just sex. Some play an extended game looking for the opportunity for a long-term relationship. In these cases, the girl will stay with the tourists for the duration of his holiday.
If girl can convince a man that she loves him, and that he loves her, then perhaps he will offer 'to let me help with her children. Or he might offer a trip abroad. Some of the girls are great actresses and with the help of all sorts of little lies some men return home believing that a faithful girlfriend is waiting his return. They keep in touch via phone, Skype, or e-mail and he will periodically send money. When he returns she will be waiting, as if she loved him. This is not so hard to believe as many lonely men are looking for companionship and love, some settle for the illusion.
Then there are other girls who play the “short game,” looking for a quick euro. The money that most of these girls can earn is usually much more than they have had before. Not having the concept or tradition of savings, the money is immediately spent on clothes, jewelry, cell phones, cable TV, etc. The unlucky and foolish start to use drugs. There is no concept of creating a better life or the ambition to achieve financial stability. It’s "live for today" and the money is spent quickly. Some of them, out of desperation or because of drugs and/or pimps (papi chulos), turn to theft. After meeting with a new client, the first thing they ask is how long they will be in town. Then, later back in his hotel room they are positioned to pilfer anything that is concealable on their person and not nailed down. If the theft is discovered the girls lay low until man leaves town with the likelihood that because of fear or embarrassment the victim will not report the crime to the police and prefer to accept the loss as a lesson learned.
Another favorite scam is fee bait and switch. It is always a good idea to pre-negotiate all payments. However in some case the girls demand more than what was agreed to, often saying they did not agree to, for example,1000 pesos but to 2000. Again, in an effort to avoid a scene many will pay the extorted amount. You might find it a good idea to write the agreement down on paper and get the girl to sign it.
It should be made clear that these scams and thefts are not the norm. Most of the girls are honest and a good time is had by all.
Some girls, especially in the wealthier districts work differently. They were previously called "beeper chicas" but now they sport smart cell phones. They seek to rendezvous with wealthy Dominicans, usually doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, rich expats, etc. The girls might be university students or models. It gives them cachet and attitude. They sometimes advertise online or in local classified. The assignations take place in luxury cabanas. With a bit of work or an experienced guide, they can be found. While considerably more expense, many of these women are knockouts and speak English.
As for language, some Spanish is helpful and can make for more fun. Some of the girls have a bit of English specific to their trade. And of course you might not want her to talk to you at all.
By Charles Fernandez