“… Literacy rates in Sierra Leone are devastatingly low, just 29 per cent among women. One of the chief culprits, as the report indicates, is teenage pregnancy. About 12 per cent of girls have their first child by the time they’re 15, and, most never return to school. To encourage girls to stay in school local groups in the provinces had been offering scholarships to those that chose to remain virgins. In the Biriwa District in northern Sierra Leone, the Biriwa Youth Association for Development (BYAD) claimed it had a hundred university scholarships for teenage girls who agreed to be examined by a community nurse. At the same time village chiefs are trying to stigmatise stigmatize teenage pregnancy through immediate suspension for both the girl and the boy. They insisted that such moves were bringing pregnancy rates down. Incentives and deterrents are time tested but the findings in the report are counter intuitive. There seems to be a backlash against young women who benefit from these grants. ‘ “Girls are (forcibly) impregnated by their peers as a “punishment” for receiving opportunities to further their schooling, whilst boys are left with no option,’ the report says. In the eastern part of the country this ‘punishment’ amounts to rape… “

Sulakshana Gupta on the New Internationalist blog.

HT: Dan Moshenberg.