By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is set to hear a case filed at its court on the 4th March, 2019 after the Child Welfare Society, women Against Violence and Exploitation Society (WAVES) in partnership with Equality Now and IHRDA filed a case to challenge the government’s ban prohibiting pregnant school girls from attending.
The Civil Society Organisations (CSO’s) filed the case at West Africa’s regional Apex court on May 17th, 2018.
‘’we wish to inform you that on the 4th March 2019, the ECOWAS Court of Justice will finally be hearing the case filed by the above child –focused organizations against the government of Sierra Leone. The case will be heard in Abuja –Nigeria,’’ the release stated.
According to the CSO’s it stated that in April 2015, the government of Sierra Leone through the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, (MEST) imposed a ban on visibly pregnant girls attending mainstream schools and sitting their examination adding that just before schools’ re-opens following the Ebola Outbreak since then, this ban has been an official government policy.
‘’ As organizations championing for the rights of adolescent girls , we remain concerned by the high rates of sexual violence in Sierra Leone and the impact that this has on women and girls .And we are happy with His Excellency President Julius Bio’s recent declaration of rape and sexual violence as a national emergency , we look forward to a time when all women and girls will be free from sexual violence and none of them will be left out from meaningful social and economic development in Sierra Leone , given the fact that they form more than half our population,’’ the CSO’s averred.
According to them, a vast majority of the pregnant school girls are victims of sexual violence adding that with statistics from the Family Support Unit (FSU) of the Sierra Leone Police revealing to a total of 8,505 rape cases as at 2018.
‘’There is therefore urgent need for justice for our girls and we are looking forward to them finally having their day in court. we are finally looking forward to our girls not being left behind by their own country,’’ the release ended.