Sierra Leone offer scholarship to virgins

Freetown - Schoolgirls who can prove they are virgins are being offered the chance to gain scholarships to university under a scheme launched in Sierra Leone on Monday to combat high rates of teenage pregnancy.

Girls from northern Biriwa will be eligible for the scholarships if they apply and pass a virginity test conducted by a community nurse, according to the Biriwa Youth Alliance for Development Organisation (BYADO).

"It will be a lucrative scholarship ... for girls between 12 years to 16 years and they could even go to universities with all expenses paid," BYADO's administrative secretary Samuel Kamara said at a press conference to launch the organisation.

Local leaders in the 30 000-strong chiefdom are also trying to crack down on the problem of teenage pregnancies by banning any schoolboy found guilty of imprenating another student from all educational institutions.

"For those bike riders who pregnates a girl student, their bikes will be confiscated, sold and the expenses go towards the upkeep of the baby," said one of the local elders Julius Koroma.

According to figures published by the UN, 40 percent of women aged 25 to 29 in Sierra Leone had their first baby by the time they were 18 and 12 percent had their first baby by the time they were 15. - Sapa-AFP

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