08.13.2021 — Today marks the first official day of the Fight Against Sexual Violence in the Classrooms in Ecuador, a symbolic day to raise awareness of the importance of preventing sexual violence and ensure sexual and reproductive education for children and adolescents. The day was one of the measures ordered to the State in the Paola Guzmán Albarracín v. Ecuador case ruling issued a year ago by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IA Court HR). This is the case of a 16-year-old Ecuadorian girl who took her own life after repeated sexual abuse by her school’s vice-principal.
Also today, the Center for Reproductive Rights and CEPAM-Guayaquil call on the Ecuadorian State to accelerate the fulfillment of the Court’s ruling in its entirety.
So far, the State has complied with a public act of recognition of responsibility in which it conferred the posthumous high school diploma to Paola, and today’s observance of the official day of the Fight Against Sexual Violence Day in the Classrooms.
While it is expected that the IA Court HR will soon issue a resolution declaring that all measures of the sentence have been complied with, the Ecuadorian State has not yet moved forward with several non-repetition measures that the IA Court HR also ordered it to comply with within the first year after the ruling was issued. These measures– in addition to being an unavoidable international obligation–are also essential to ensuring that girls, boys and adolescents in the country benefit from public policies that prevent sexual violence in educational settings.
The following measures still need to be fully implemented:
- Developing permanent and updated statistics on cases of sexual violence against girls or boys in educational settings. To date, the State has indicated that it has identified the technical challenges to fully comply, such as the unification of data collected by different institutions and the implementation of instruments to gather information on projects and programs on the subject.
- Ensuring the detection and reporting of cases of sexual violence against children. The State reported that coordination is necessary to implement forms and campaigns that promote the detection of these cases; however, there is a serious omission of comprehensive sexual education as a key component for the prevention of these acts of sexual violence because, as stated by the IA Court HR, this is the only way to provide children with the tools needed to detect it.
- Providing training for educational personnel to address and prevent situations of sexual violence. The State indicates that training is being and will be provided, but does not specify the content, focus, or geographic scope of these measures, nor whether the training will be permanent.
- Providing orientation, assistance and care to victims of sexual violence and/or their family members. The State has described some generic measures that have been implemented without providing clarity on their efficiency or effectiveness.
The Center and CEPAM-Guayaquil recognize that the State has been willing to comply with the measures of non-repetition. An example of this has been establishing an inter-institutional roundtable led by the Human Rights Secretariat, with the participation of several ministries and the Attorney General’s Office. However, we express our concern regarding the lack of inclusion of a gender perspective in the roundtable–since no organization with this expertise is participating–as the State has considered that this is exclusively a children’s issue.
In addition, the dialogue with civil society organizations has been very limited. The State has not provided concrete information to date on how the non-repetition guarantees will be implemented, nor have spaces been created to provide a real opportunity for the participation of the organizations that represent the victims. This is contrary to what was expressly ordered by the Court.
By August 16, 2021, at the latest, Ecuador must submit a report on the actions it has taken to move forward with the pending compliance measures. We trust that this time the State will not only provide more information on the compliance actions it plans to take but will also include the organizations representing the victims in the dialogue to build them, as well as other civil society organizations and international bodies such as the MESECVI (the Mechanism to Follow Up on the Implementation of the Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women).
Finally, it is worth noting that the Inter-American Court of Human Rights’ ruling not only contemplates these specific orders for Ecuador but also includes the recognition of rights whose central focus is comprehensive sexual education in Latin America and the Caribbean. For this reason, the Center and CEPAM-Guayaquil urge the States of this part of the continent to implement the human rights standards contained in the ruling in Paola’s case as soon as possible so that her story is not repeated.
Learn more about Paola’s case: reproductiverights.org/landmark-ruling-will-help-protect-schoolgirls-from-sexual-violence-throughout-latin-america/
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