Sierra Leone's segregation policy for pregnant schoolgirls under fire

2017-04-10 21:45
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Freetown – A rights group has again lambasted Sierra Leone’s government over its programme to put pregnant teenage girls in separate classes from those of their peers, a report on Monday said.

According to Aljazeera.com, Amnesty international has said that denying pregnant girls mainstream education is a violation of their human rights.

One of the pregnant girls was quoted as saying that she was supposed to be the one who decided on whether to join an alternative schooling programme.

"I am the one who should decide whether to go to the alternative or the mainstream school," the 17-year-old girl was quoted as saying.

Reports indicated that, in 2015, thousands of schoolgirls in the west African country were forced to undergo humiliating and degrading public pregnancy tests since the government banned pregnant girls from attending mainstream schools and taking exams. 

At the time, teenage girls had had their breasts and stomachs felt by teachers and nurses in front of their peers and were forced to take urine tests, which has discouraged many girls from going to school, whether they are pregnant or not, according to the rights group.

The ban on pregnant girls attending school had informally existed for a decade, but it was declared a government policy in April 2015, when schools reopened in the wake of the Ebola outbreak.

In its website last year, Amnesty International said that about 10 000 girls were affected by the ban on visibly pregnant girls attending school and sitting for exams.

Various studies have reported that there was an increase in teenage pregnancies during the Ebola outbreak.

A study in 2016 by the Secure Livelihoods Consortium stated that UNFPA surveys indicate 18 119 teenage girls became pregnant during the Ebola outbreak. 

Even before Ebola broke out in late 2013, Sierra Leone had one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in the world, with 28% of girls aged 15-19 years pregnant or having already given birth at least once. 

Read more on:    amnesty international  |  siera leone  |  west africa

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