Shamed and Blamed: Pregnant Girls' Rights at Risk in Sierra Leone

The government of Sierra Leone has a policy that excludes pregnant girls from attending schools and taking exams. In April 2015, the Sierra Leonean Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Mr. Bah, issued a public statement which confirmed the policy of its government. After this announcement many pregnant girls were scared to go back to school fearing that they would be sent back to their homes or they would be subject to checks or pregnancy tests. Others decided to risk their health strapping their stomachs and breasts to hide that they were pregnant. Enforcement of the ban has put girls at risk as school staff and other in positions of authority feel empowered and required to take measures to ascertain girls' pregnancy status.

The Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone described the ban as discriminatory, stigmatizing, and likely to worsen the marginalization of pregnant girls and women. The ban is a violation of girls' right to education and is a discriminatory measure which reinforces negative stereotypes about girls.

Amnesty International calls on the government of Sierra Leone to guarantee girls' human rights to non-discrimination and education by immediately lifting the ban. The government must also, as matter of urgency, protect girls' rights to privacy, physical and mental integrity as well as their right to be free from inhuman and degrading treatment by issuing a directive to all schools prohibiting the checking or testing of girls for pregnancy. Read More

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Message Recipients: His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, President of Sierra Leone
Hon. Dr. Minkailu Bah
Dr. Abu Bakar Fofanah
Hon. Moijue Kaikai
Hon. Alimamy Kamara
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