Portoviejo is the capital of the province of Manabí, on the west coast of Ecuador. Around 250,000 people live in this city which is famous for its rich and diverse cuisine.
Ecuador, and the province of Manabí more specifically, is a major gateway for drugs. This brings violence, corruption and extortion into the province. Furthermore, girls in Portoviejo are vulnerable to child marriage, which is still common practice in the province.
Since 1999, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Portoviejo.
In Ecuador, girls are still victims of child marriages. Indeed, 22% of women are married before they turn 18, even though the legal age to marry in Ecuador is 18 years.
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 Manabí specifically, where Portoviejo is located, 12% of women were married before the age of 18. This is one of the highest percentages of all provinces in Ecuador.
Manabí, the province where Portoviejo is located, is situated next to the sea. From the many fishing villages there, drugs are smuggled from neighbouring Colombia and Peru to the rest of the world.
Families 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 25% of people in Manabí living in poverty. The lure of easy money puts many at risk of becoming entangled in dangerous activities.