The reports titled: ‘Shamed and Blamed: Pregnant Girls’ rights at risk in Sierra Leone comprises eight chapters, with different issues ranging from the ban excluding visible pregnant girls from school and taking exams, the impact of dying education and putting girls’ at risk of abuse, temporary alternative education system developed for pregnant girls, sexual violence, abusive relationship and stigma, legal obligations, conclusions, and the recommendations all inclusive.
The report was born out of a consultative talks with the victims, teachers and relatives at various locations from across the length and breadth of the country.
According to the reports, the decision by Government to continue the school ban on pregnant girls in Sierra Leone had forced approximately over ten thousand girls out of school. This decision had been viewed by many governmental and non-governmental organizations as a gross violation on the right to education.
It is estimated that a good percentage of children in Sierra Leone are born to school-age children, and there is anecdotal evidence that the incidence of teenage pregnancy rose sharply during the Ebola outbreak.
In her statement while officially launching the reports, Mr. Sabrina Mahtani said excluding pregnant girls from mainstream schools and banning them from sitting crucial exams is discriminatory with it devastating consequences, while emphasizing that education is a rights and not something for government to arbitrarily take away as a punishment.
With Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) Scheduled for late November this year, she called on authorities to immediately lift the ban that restricts girls from receiving formal education.
Several recommendations were made by girl-based organizations. In response, she noted that “Ebola may be going, but its consequences for the country are enduring. This is a sign of how much the situation has deteriorated.”
On his Part, the Executive Director, Centre for Accountability and the Rule of Law, (CARL), Ibrahim Tommy said that government must respect the law that governs the country. He quoted the Child Rights Act of 2004 that categorically stated that all is expected to have equal access to education irrespective of who they are.