Date of Award


Document type


Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


First Advisor

James K. Boyce

Second Advisor

Lisa Saunders

Third Advisor

Sonia E. Alvarez

Subject Categories



On September 30, 2012, Jonathan Torres stabbed his wife, Miguelina Martinez, fifty-two times in a beauty salon in Santiago, Dominican Republic. Ms. Martinez, 33 years-old, went to the district attorney's office eighteen times in the two weeks prior to her murder to report that because of her husband's violent threats she left her home. He killed her because she no longer wanted to be with him; the knife he used was hidden in a bouquet of roses.

This three-essay style dissertation interrogates the state of development and gender violence in the Dominican Republic. The first chapter examines the implications of racial, gender, and class stratification on the economic and social opportunities of low-income women, predominantly of African descent, working in the export processing zones and as domestic workers.

The second chapter explores the correlation between women's economic, political, and social characteristics and the incidence domestic violence using data from the Demographic and Health Survey. Further, I test which model--the household bargaining model (HBM) or the male backlash model (MBM)--best explains gender violence. I find that the HBM better predicts physical violence, while the MBM better predicts sexual violence. However, when I disaggregate asset-poor women and asset-rich women, I find that the HBM is more adept at explaining gender violence for asset-rich women and the MBM for asset-poor women.

The third chapter explores the role of women's and men's endogenous preferences on the justifications of gender violence. In both the female and male specifications, there is a positive correlation between men making more decisions and the justification of gender violence. Women that support gender equity are less likely to justify gender violence; while husbands that are less gender progressive are more likely to justify gender violence.

Based on my findings, I conclude that the Dominican government's economic policies of the last thirty years are the knife hidden in the government's roses or rhetoric of human development and women's rights. To promote human development and foster women's rights, the Dominican government must embark on a new trajectory focused on human capital formation and a more equitable distribution of income, wealth, and power.


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