The Dominican Republic has been in the news recently because Sen. Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, who flew there twice in 2010 on the private plane of a friend and political donor, and failed to pay for the flights, faced allegations that he had engaged in sexual trysts with prostitutes in the Dominican Republic, which he vehemently denied.
Way before allegations surfaced against Senator Bob Menendez, the Dominican Republic had acquired a reputation as a sex tourism haven.
According to the most recent of the annual country reports released by the U.S. State Department, “child prostitution and other abuses of children, trafficking in persons” are among the criminal and social problems occurring in the Dominican Republic.
The report notes that, “Sex tourism existed throughout the country, particularly in Las Terrenas, Cabarete, Sosua, and Boca Chica.” And that while prostitution is legal in the Dominican Republi, child prostitution is illegal.
The Dominican Republic, the most visited Caribbean nation, attracted 4.6 million visitors in 2012. Although renowned for its breathtaking scenery, pristine beaches and quality accommodation, many of these visitors were attracted to the Dominican Republic because sex tourism.
The Dominican Republic’s proximity to the United States and Europe, and its inexpensive travel packages, have made it a favored spot for sex tourism.
There are a wide range of options available, from 30 minutes with a woman in a small hotel for about US $40 to various packages often arranged privately via the internet.
“We’ve become known as a place where foreigners feel they can come and live out their fantasies,” according to former prostitute Jacqueline Montero, who now heads an organization that assists sex workers. “It’s not illegal. … It’s easy and, for tourists, it’s inexpensive.”