Case challenging Sierra Leone’s pregnant school girl ban to be heard in June
Case challenging Sierra Leone’s ban prohibiting pregnant school girls from attending school to be heard at the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court of Justice on June 25, 2019
The case filed at the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court of Justice challenging Sierra Leone’s ban prohibiting pregnant school girls from attending school, will now be heard on June 25, 2019.
The announcement was made in Abuja, Nigeria, by a 3-judge bench. The Government of Sierra Leone had made an application to have the entire case dismissed citing lack of competence on the part of one of the applicants to appear before the court. This application was dismissed and the court ordered a full hearing of the case on its merits on the25th of June 2019. In the same decision the court also granted Amnesty International leave to become amicus curiae on the case (friend of the court).
“We have been ready for a year now to proceed with this matter, since in our view the issues we plan to canvass before the court are still ongoing in Sierra Leone. However, the Government of Sierra Leone requested to have the matter adjourned in order for them to prepare their defence and we stand guided by the court’s decision to allow them this time,” said Equality Now’s Programme Officer – End Sexual Violence, Naitore Nyamu.
The case, was filed on May 17, 2018 by the Child Welfare Society, Women Against Violence and Exploitation Society (WAVES) in partnership with Equality Now and all parties were duly served.
As organizations, we remain concerned by the high rates of sexual violence in Sierra Leone and the impact that this has on women and girls. And while we are happy with President Julius Bio’s recent announcement declaring rape a national disaster, we note that the need to address these injustices from a policy level to an enforcement level still stand,” said Nyamu.
Recent statistics from the Family Support Unit of the Sierra Leone Police revealed that 8,505 rape cases were reported nationwide last year. Out of these, 2,579 involved the defilement of children as young as seven months old.
The situation in 2017 was not any better. At the time, Equality Now interviewed 250 girls aged between 14 to 17 and another 250 women aged between 18 and 35. Out of the 500 girls and women that participated, 100 reported that they had been victims of sexual violence. A further 60 percent of the girls who participated in this study said that they knew between one and three girls who had become pregnant as a result of sexual violence and had been forced to drop out of school as a result.