When Mariatu Sesay realized she was pregnant at 14, one thing scared her more than the social isolation she felt in the classroom: under Sierra Leonean law, she was now banned from attending school at all because she was expecting. A conscientious student, Sesay defied the ban and kept coming to study at the school, regardless of the law and the taunts from her classmates.
"I still wanted to continue school after learning I was pregnant. I love education, that's what made me want to continue. When I would show up people would ridicule me, but I summed up the courage to continue going," Sesay told Reuters, holding her 10-month-old baby girl, Nadia, in her arms. Moved by Sesay's resolve, the school principal, Eric Conteh defied the law, risking his career and becoming an unwitting figurehead in the fight against a rule that rights groups say is outdated and stigmatizes teenage pregnancy.