By Samuel Wise Bangura
Dr Turay said 2 out of every 10 girls in the country have sexual intercourse at age 15. And by the time these girls reach age 18, he continued, 7 out of 10 had engaged in sexual intercourse.
By age 20, he explained, “8 out of 10 children get engaged in sexual intercourse.” He emphasized “These are very bad figures for the future of Sierra Leone.”
He noted that as these girls get engaged in sex, the situation gets worse. Statistics, he explained, reveals that 1 out of 10 of the girls that engage in sex get pregnant by age 15.
Worst of it, he said, was that “56% of our women give birth by the age of 20.” The DMO warned: “we have to do something or else it would be very difficult for our country to move ahead.”
Dr. Seni Turay further stated that the 2013Demographic Survey put shows there was about “95% of women who have knowledge on contraceptive. About 96% of men, he said, have knowledge on contraceptive use. Among the married women, he went on, that was about 76% knowledge on the use of contraceptives.
He however damned the presence of the knowledge among both men and women. “The knowledge is there, but to put this knowledge into practice is a big problem. So, the biggest challenge is to put the knowledge into practice.”
The Bo District Chairman, Joseph Munda Bindi opened up on the effect of the issue on his District. The District, he disclosed, had about 300 girls impregnated during the deadly Ebola Virus Disease outbreak. Additionally, the District has about 200 sexual penetration cases at the courts; cases he said highlight the problem of teenage pregnancy.
The cases, he said, happened during the EVD outbreak which he opined showed that “parents have lost control over their children.” He stated: “the girls are now let loose in the homes than in the schools and this is a disgrace to this nation.”
Speaking on behalf of the youths, Abdul Aziz Barrie declared that “teenage pregnancy creates a chain of poverty.” He therefore urged the gathered teenagers to get back to abstinence.
The Bo City Council Deputy Mayor, Wurie Jalloh, cried down the new method of child rearing which he said was too relaxed. “Parents of old had total control over the bringing up of their children. They brought us up with a heavy hand.” In that light, he requested: “Let us get to the old.” The issue of teenage pregnancy, he suggested, adds to “the dependency syndrome.”
At the two-day consultative meeting with stakeholders on the impact of the EVD on teenage girls in the Bo District, there was a look at the overview of national strategy, presentations, group work and discussions. The participants also came up with a “Development Work Plan.”