At the end of November 2012, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) expressed its concern about a systemic pattern of sexual abuse in educational settings, as well as the limited results of judicial investigations to determine responsibility and impose sanctions. It urges the government to prioritize the investigation of charges of sexual abuse in schools as well as to establish measures so that personnel sanctioned for sexual abuse will be banned from contact with children or adolescents in the future.
The Center for Reproductive Rights submitted a letter to the committee in September detailing Ecuador’s obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and how it has violated those obligations by allowing sexual abuse to flourish without consequences. The consequences of such an environment can be devastating for girls and adolescents, as demonstrated by our pending case before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Paola Guzmán Albarracín v. Ecuador. The vice-principal at Paola’s school sexually abused her for two years. When Paola discovered she was pregnant, she committed suicide.
In the wake of CESCR’s concluding observations, we once again call on Ecuador’s officials to take seriously the problem of institutional sexual abuse in its schools. One victim is too many, and an environment of such reprehensible behavior should never be allowed to thrive.