Ebola: early pregnancy and risk of sexual violence in Sierra Leone

ebolaAvoids contact, we do not kiss. Despite these precautions, the Ebola outbreak in Africa West already triggered an unexpected reply: early pregnancy increase, and indices of rising sexual violence are increasing.

Closing schools, stadiums, cinemas, concert venues and banning all public gatherings to prevent the spread of the virus leave an idle youth discouraged.

If the set “ABC” – to “Avoid Body Contact,” “Avoid body contact” – is now integrated by the people who gave up shaking hands and hugging, it stops at the privacy level.

In clinics deserted by women about to give birth for fear of contamination, nurses are receiving more and more pregnant girls under 15, and even 13 years.

“If you were expecting a decline in the birth rate, but rather the opposite,” said Musab Sillah, director of Kuntorloh health center, a popular neighborhood of Freetown, the capital.

“Everyone recommends avoiding contact but at the same time, schools are closed and there is no longer any social activity. The girls stay home and found the boys,” said he.

Eugenia Bodkin, nurse Mabella, an area overlooking the congested slum of Susan’s Bay, also assures: “We are seeing fewer and fewer women in late pregnancy but more and more pregnant girls two, three months.”

Empirical observation field workers confirmed straightforward Matthew Dalling, Head of Child Protection in Sierra Leone to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

“We have no evidence or present means of conducting a statistical study due to Ebola, but we can expect an increase in teen pregnancy,” he told AFP.

“It’s a logical assumption, while 2.8 million young people are out of school, which no longer works, all loose,” continues the expert, in the position for one year.

– ‘Transactional sex’ –

Mr Dalling said that “38% of adolescent girls become pregnant before age 18 and half of girls married before age 15” in the country, one of the poorest in the world and knows normally food insecurity.

This brings an additional fear: the development of “transactional sex” among young people. It’s not quite prostitution, he says, “but a relationship in exchange for a favor, a mobile phone, bread, a little food.”

“The problem existed before. It is difficult to assess its increase, but combined with all vulnerabilities, lack of schools, the inability to go anywhere, it makes sense that it should develop, “he said.

This crisis, that accompany the fear of neighbor, the containment measures and roadblocks, refer the parents of young Sierra Leoneans today, born during the atrocities of the civil war (1991-2002), their nightmares, says Matthew Dalling.

“Sierra Leone is experiencing a collective trauma with Ebola inflicts stress, frustration and anger in the population. It is expected an explosion of sexual violence and abuse against women,” said the expert of Unicef, ensuring that the organization is in the process of mobilizing resources to cope.

A local organization defending human rights, cited by the Sierra Leone media has reported an increase in sexual assaults and rape of minor girls, some as young as 9 to 13 years, often by relatives in the Kenema region (south-east), initial epicenter of the epidemic.

Across the country, parents agonize. To protect her 13 years, Michael, one of the capital driver was downright sacrificing a brand new television station: “I’m afraid it makes nonsense I prefer watching it remains. films, “he admits.

The Stopru