Guayaquil is the capital of the Guayas province, in the west of Ecuador. Around 2,7 million people live in the city, making it one of the biggest cities of Ecuador. The port of Guayaquil is the most important commercial port in the country, with many international imports and exports passing through. This also means the port is a major gateway for drugs, bringing violence, corruption and extortion into the city.
Since 2007, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Guayaquil.
In Ecuador, girls are still victim of child marriages. Indeed, 22% of women are married before they turn 18, even though the legal age to marry in Ecuador is 18 year.
Child marriage is a violation of the universal declaration of human rights, and the emotional damage a child suffers from a forced union is profound. There is also an increased risk of child pregnancies, and domestic violence.
In the province of Guayas specifically, where Guayaquil is located, 13% of women were married before the age of 18. This is the third highest percentage of all provinces in Ecuador.
The biggest port of Ecuador is located in Guayaquil, known as the most dangerous city in Ecuador. This port has become an exit point for drugs and weapons, coming from neighbouring Colombia and Peru.
People not only face drug related violence, but also corruption, extortion, and money laundering, which is made easier by Ecuador’s dollarization of the economy.
These aspects have a harmful effect on the safety of children; especially for the 17% of people in Guayas living in poverty; where the lure of easy money puts many at risk of becoming entangled in dangerous activities.