West African Regional Court has ordered the Sierra Leone government from preventing pregnant girls from attending schools.
A 2015 report by an advocacy group read that the Sierra Leone government adopted a policy which barred pregnant girls from attending school. This, they said while presenting the case in 2018, was as a result of an increase in the teenage pregnancy rate which was directly linked to closure of schools during Ebola crisis.
According to Equality Now, the advocacy group, such pregnant students were allowed to attend only specialized centers, an act which was termed as a form of discrimination.
Judy Gitau, a member of the advocacy group, in an interview stated that “a girl cannot be pregnant on her own in the first instance. Also, many of these girls come from poor families and once they lose a year, they will not return to school.”
The judgment was described by Amnesty International, as a landmark moment for thousands of girls who were denied inclusive education because of the ban.
Marta Colomer, the Acting Deputy Director Campaigns for Amnesty International, West Africa added that they hope the ruling will pass on to other African countries who had similar bans.
“This also delivers a clear message to other African governments who have similar bans, such as Tanzania and Equatorial Guinea, or may be contemplating them, that they should follow this ground breaking ruling and take steps to allow pregnant girls access to education in line with their own human rights obligations,” said Colomer.