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10,000 girls risk future life opportunities

-Amnesty International report reveals

November 9, 2014 By Victoria Saffa

A report published by Amnesty International has revealed that ten thousand (10,000) girls in Sierra Leone have been stigmatized and risk destroying their future life opportunities.

The report titled: “Shamed and blamed: Pregnant girls right at risk in Sierra Leone” was officially launched on Friday (November 6) at the Bank Complex, Kingtom in Freetown.

Presenting the report, Amnesty International West Africa Researcher, Sabrina Mahtani said excluding pregnant girls from mainstream schools and banning them from sitting crucial exams was discriminatory and will have devastating consequences.

“Education is a right and not something for governments to arbitrarily take away as a punishment. As Sierra Leone moves forward from the devastating Ebola crisis, it is vital that these girls are not left behind,” she said.

She continued that her organization has documented how the ban has been enforced in some schools through humiliating and degrading treatment of girls and that girls have been subjected to degrading physical searches and test with some having their breasts and stomachs felt by teachers to test for pregnancy.

Madam Mahtani called on the government to guarantee girl’s human rights to non-discrimination and education by immediately lifting the ban on pregnant girls to allow them attend mainstream schooling and sitting exams.

“The government must also as a matter of urgency, protect girls right to privacy, physical and mental integrity, as well as their right to be free from inhuman and degrading treatment by issuing a directives to all schools prohibiting the checking or testing of girls for pregnancy,” she urged.

According to her, the report proffered a number of recommendations for action by the government to guarantee girls’ right to health including access to sexual and reproductive health information and services, and in particular post rape services.

The Amnesty International West African Researcher also called on international partners to continue efforts to support the government to fully comply with its international legal obligations to ensure the protection of pregnant girls’ human right.