Landmark Ruling by Inter-American Court of Human Rights Sets International

(08,17,2020) –San Jose – Bogotal – New York

In a landmark ruling with wide-reaching impact, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights established legally binding standards to prevent sexual violence and harassment in schools throughout LatinAmerica and the Caribbean, and held Ecuador responsible for failing to protect Paola Guzman Albarracin from the sexual violence she suffered in the public school she attended.

The ruling came on August 14, in Paola Guzmán Albarracin v. Ecuador, a case broughtby the Center for Reproductive Rights and the Ecuadorian Center for the Promotion and Action of Women (CEPAM-Guayaquil) on behalf of the family of Paola Guzmán Albarracin, an  Ecuadorian girl who was sexually abused by Bolivar Espin, her school’s vice-principal.

The Court found that the suffering caused by the continued sexual abuse is what led Paola to attempt to take her own life. Although the school authorities found out on time that she had ingested white phosphorus, they let her die by not to taking her to a hospital or informing her family.

Paola died in 2002 at the age of 16, and since then, her mother has been seeking justice for her daughter. “My daughter´s name has been finally cleared after being assumed guilty by the Ecuadorian justice system. It is now clear that my Paola was victim of a terrible abuse that led her to her suicide. Sexual aggressors will no longer be protected,” said Petita Albarracín, Paola´s mother. “Justice was finally done for my Paola”.

The Court holds Ecuador responsible for violating Paola’s right to life, personal integrity, private life and dignity, education, and her right to live free from gender violence and discrimination. The Court’s ruling clarifies for the first time that the right to education must also include sexual and reproductive education.