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School-Related Sexual Violence Cases at Alarming Levels in Ecuador

Students Suffer High-Levels of Sexual Abuse, Rape and Impunity at School

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School-Related Sexual Violence Cases at Alarming Levels in Ecuador

In Ecuador, an alarming number of children experience sexual violence at school and on the way to school.

This week, Ecuadorian media reported allegations that a rural school teacher was accused of sexually abusing about 30 girls in her class. The teacher also reportedly asked the girl to send him intimate photos on WhatsApp. Following complaints from some of the girls and their parents, his arrest was ordered by the local education department, the prosecutor’s office and the police.

In addition, in August, as Ecuador celebrated its National Day against Sexual Violence in Schools, the country was shocked to discover that an 8-year-old was repeatedly sexually abused at school by an older student, but was told not to tell anyone about him the head teacher and the principal of the school.

These are just two of the many cases reported this year that show widespread sexual violence in Ecuador’s public and private schools. Ecuadorian media and civil society regularly report cases of school-related sexual violence, as does the Ecuadorian Attorney General’s Office.

The Ecuadorian agreement provides clear instructions to report all cases confidentially and to take immediate steps to protect students. However, in cases involving sexual violence in schools, including many documented by Human Rights Watch, failure of school authorities to do so remains all too common.

Too many teens and young children are chronically subject to sexual violence by teachers, school officials and bus drivers (the adults they should be able to trust). In 2020, Human Rights Watch exposed serious gaps in Ecuador’s education and justice systems that leave many children unprotected, subjected to horrific abuse, stigmatized for reporting abuse, and at risk of re-traumatization.

While the Ecuadorian government has made significant progress in addressing sexual violence, significant gaps remain in its approach to detection, prevention and support services for survivors. What happens to students in digital spaces such as social media platforms, mobile apps and online classrooms is largely unreported, potentially affecting more students who may face digital sexual violence from teachers and peers.

Ecuador should strengthen its work on effective accountability and reparation for violations against students. It should also increase focus on preventing classroom abuse. The scourge of sexual violence against Ecuadorian children must end. – Human Rights Watch

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