Although Ecuador is a really beautiful country and I am proud to be an Ecuadorian, Ecuador is very behind in Women’s Rights. Most of Ecuadorian women are housewives that dedicate their whole life to the wellness of their husbands and kids.
This is the case of my mother and I hope that it won’t be the case of my sisters. My mother was raised in a middle class home where she learned the duties that she needed to comply with because she was a woman. When she married my dad at the age of 18, she stopped going to school and she started taking care of the chores at the house. She soon had to start taking care of me, because I was born not a long time after my parents got married.
My father didn’t stop going to school. It was my mother who had to give up her studies and all her dreams in order to be a good wife. She had to stay at home, cooking, cleaning, and making sure that she looked good enough to keep my father faithful to her.
My mother is 41 years old now and she hasn’t done anything else other than take care of the chores at home. Last year she started driving a van, so she finally got a little of independence and started making some money for herself and by herself. My mother is always talking about how deeply she desires to get a divorce and start doing that things that she has always wanted in her life, but in her forties she is still not economically independent. She is afraid of ending up in a worse situation than the one that she is in right now. Now that her kids are leaving home, she feels that she has done nothing in her life.
My mother’s story is similar to the stories of millions of women in Ecuador who hope to have a better future. Living in a macho society restrains them for doing a lot things that men are able to do.
Discrimination is generally spread in all levels of society, just different faces. Employment discrimination, domestic violence or sexual abuse are the biggest problems that women have to deal with.
Statistics say that women’s rights in Ecuador have made a big improvement in the last decade, but the idea of real equality is still not even foreseen by Ecuadorian men. Ecuadorian men are willing to keep the things as they are because it is good for them.
The USA State of Department has a yearly report on Human Rights per country. There is section that talks about women’s rights in Ecuador. This is what they say:
“Although the law prohibits violence against women, including within marriage, abuses were widespread. The Law Against Violence Affecting Women and Children criminalizes spousal abuse, including physical, sexual, and psychological abuse; provides penalties of up to $25 or 7 days in prison; creates family courts; and gives courts the power to remove an abusive spouse from the home. The law also provides legal support to the Government’s Women’s Bureau in cases of sexual harassment in the workplace.
The Office of Gender, in the Ministry of Government, reported 10,877 cases of sexual, psychological, or physical mistreatment of women for the first half of the year, although the numbers were not complete for all provinces. Women may file complaints against a rapist or an abusive spouse or companion only if they produce a witness. Some communities have established their own centers for counseling and legal support of abused women. The Government’s National Commission on Women (CONAMU) may accept complaints about abuse of women but must refer cases to the prosecutor’s office for action. CONAMU had projects in all provinces, focusing primarily on equal opportunities, public policy programs toward women, and lines of credit for women’s businesses. CONAMU also offered legal and psychological services to victims of violence in most provinces. In some police stations, social workers employed by city governments or NGOs assisted victims.
Many rapes were not reported due to the victims’ reluctance to confront the perpetrators. The penalty for rape is up to 25 years in prison. In cases of statutory rape involving “amorous” sex with a minor, if the rapist marries the victim, the charges against him, or anyone else who took part in the rape, cannot be pursued unless the marriage subsequently is annulled. The penalty for rape where death occurred is 35 years in prison. During the year, 3,083 rapes were reported; 656 persons were charged with rape; and 118 cases were prosecuted.
Prostitution is legal for persons over the age of 14 so long as the businesses are registered with the Government and follow health regulations.
Despite the legal prohibition of harassment, women’s rights organizations described sexual harassment in the workplace as common. However, reports of sexual harassment did not appear in the press during the year.
Discrimination against women was pervasive in society, particularly with respect to educational and economic opportunities for those in the lower economic strata. Although women enjoy the same legal status as men, the Office of Gender reported that women often did not receive equal rights in practice. According to the Government, women received 65 percent of the pay received by men for equal work. The women’s movement alleged that culture and tradition inhibited achievement of full equality for women. There were fewer women than men employed in professional work and skilled trades, and pay discrimination against women was common.
The Ecuadorian Women’s Permanent National Forum included more than 320 women’s organizations and promoted social, economic, and cultural change through various methods, including increasing political participation by women. In addition, the National Women’s Council provided support for approximately 500 women’s organizations, many of which promoted social consciousness and greater participation by women in the political process. The Women’s Political Coordinator, an NGO that operated in 22 provinces, promoted similar themes relating to women’s rights, with emphases on political participation and human rights. It also focused on young women and Afro Ecuadorian women.”
If you want to take a look at the Complete Report that the US Department of State has on Human Rights for Ecuador, here is the link.