West Africa regional court orders Sierra Leone to revoke ban on pregnant girls attending school
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West Africa regional court orders Sierra Leone to revoke ban on pregnant girls attending school

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Community Court of Justice ordered Sierra Leone on Thursday to immediately revoke a 2015 ban that prevented pregnant girls from attending mainstream schools.

While banned from attending mainstream schools, pregnant girls were offered the opportunity to attend a separate school that operated only three days of the week. There were only four subjects available for the girls to study, and all girls had class in one classroom regardless of age or academic progress.

Women Against Violence and Exploitation (WAVES), a non-governmental organization registered in Sierra Leone, brought an action against the Republic of Sierra Leone, alleging that this ban violated the girls’ rights to education and non-discrimination.

The ECOWAS Community Court of Justice held that the ban was discriminatory and that it negatively impacted the girls’ right to education. The alternative school provided a lesser quality of education, which was equally discriminatory and a violation of the right to education. The court ordered Sierra Leone to immediately revoke the policy and to abolish the separate school. Additionally, the court ordered Sierra Leone to develop programs to remove bias against pregnant girls and to incorporate sexual and reproductive education into school curriculum.