I barely knew that there was a civil war in Sierra Leone until it was declared over in 2002. I remember seeing an episode of “Oprah” about the horrors women were suffering there: rape, murder, AIDS, extreme poverty. I knew as horrific as it was, I needed to know more. So I will definitely be reading the new memoir Bite of the Mango that tells the excruciating details of Sierra Leone survivor, Mariatu Kamara, who was 11 when her village was raided by rebel forces who took her prisoner. Her story is so unbelievable that you would swear it was fiction.
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In an attempt to combat teen pregnancy in a country with one of the highest rates, Sierra Leone is offering scholarships to girls who remain virgins. In the West African country, 40 percent of women between the ages of 25 and 29 have children by the time they were 18-years-old. To be eligible for the university scholarship, girls 12-16 must be able to prove their virginity through an exam with a nurse. An interesting way to encourage education, but something about “proving” one’s virginity seems off to us. While there’s an element of female empowerment to the new program, it certainly doesn’t take too kindly to men—boys responsible for getting a girl pregnant will be banned from all schools. A local elder, Julius Koroma explains the punishment further, “For those bike riders who impregnates a girl student, their bikes will be confiscated, sold and the expenses go towards the upkeep of the baby.” Bikes for babies? That’s certainly a new social currency. [Yahoo News]
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