This gem of a girl wasn’t at the orphanage the first or even second year I was there. But by the third year, she straggled into the orphanage and stirred up a fuss in the first week she was there. She was picking fights with all the boys and objected to being told what to do. Reubalisa was soon nicknamed the pistol because she didn’t take anything from anyone.
I wasn’t surprised to find out that she had been a victim of domestic violence at the hands of her father. Domestic violence is rampant in the DR and women are an easy target, regardless of their age. They make 44% less than what men earn for the same work and their unemployment rate is more than twice that of men. This makes women extra vulnerable because it is difficult to support themselves without a man. The mentality that men are somehow better than women assumes a special name and form in Latin Culture, called “machismo”. Women have come to accept this as a reality and gender based violence has risen to become the fourth leading cause of death in women.
So when Reubalisa started fights with all the boys and wouldn’t a single guy touch her in the slightest way, it was understandable given the way she had been treated. It saddened me to learn that the first law regarding domestic abuse wasn’t even passed until 1997 in the Dominican Republic. Some women accept it and others like Reubalisa fight back. Since she’s been at the orphanage she has grown and is now able to talk to some of the boys who she has come to know. But by no means is she healed, and she will never be the same again.
Facts from: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/11/23/the-dominican-republics-epidemic-of-domestic-violence/