In Sierra Leone, members of a women’s secret society are proposing drastic measures to stop Ebola from spreading through sexual contact. They are suggested that all survivors should be quarantined for 3 months because the virus can still be spread for up to 7 weeks after recovery. Since men refuse to use condoms, quarantine seems to be the only solution to the problems. The CDC hasn’t officially confirmed that the virus can still be spread through sexual intercourse, but said multiple studies have showed that it can last in the semen way longer than any other bodily fluids. Women’s secret societies are ancient institutions that are found all over Sierra Leone. They teach girls “how to become women” through a hands-on curriculum that includes sex education. However, secret societies have been known for practicing FGM as apart of their education curriculum. Promoting 3 months of abstinence can easily be seen as another traditional belief but there is obviously a problem promoting abstinence-based sexual messages. People are going to have sex, whether its voluntary or involuntary, it is going to happen and it’s not going to stop because of Ebola. Sierra Leone has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world and it’s related to the high percentages of teenage pregnancies. With the number in maternal related deaths increasing, the country has put billboards all over to encourage girls to stay in school and not get pregnant. Without proper sex education and access to contraceptives, this is nearly impossible. Besides the lack of education and health care, the knowledge and access to water and proper sanitation is also an issue. Unplanned pregnancy is the number one reason that is keeping girls out of schools, but also the lack of wash facilities for menstruating girls is another issue. The new ruling by the ministry of education has banned pregnant girls in schools because they are seen as bad examples to other students.
I feel like the billboards that are all over Sierra Leone are quite contradictory, telling girls to stay in school but banning girls who are pregnant from attending school? It doesn't make any sense. Abstinence sex education has been a proven factor in not preventing teen pregnancies. Providing these girls with the proper education, sanitation facilities, and health care access is what’s going to help from stop spreading Ebola and the teen pregnancy epidemic in Sierra Leone.