In Sierra Leone teen pregnancy has long been a problem, after Ebola focus groups report a 47% jump in teen pregnancies. Healthcare workers say that girls can start having sex as young as 11.
According to one NGO worker, as schools closed during the Ebola epidemic girls increasingly turned to the street. “the only means of survival that they resorted to was to have sex. Transactional sex, where the men pay them for having sex.”
According to the World Bank, 1,360 women out of 100,000 died in 2015 as a result of pregnancy, compared with 14 out of 100,000 in the US. Marie Stopes International says that 10% of those deaths are believed to be directly related to unsafe abortions. Despite this abortion is illegal in Sierra Leone.
There are chronic problems with underreporting due to the shame and stigma around abortion. Self-administered termination methods are popular, particularly with teenagers, and every year 10,000 women and girls seek help for post-abortion hospital care after obtaining an unsafe abortion.
Louis Leeson is a reportage photojournalist with a background in documentary film. He studied at the London College of Communication from 2009 to 2012 where he received a First Class BA (Hons) in Photojournalism. Louis works in the UK and internationally for feature film, editorial, and humanitarian organisations. He shoots long-term investigative projects and has covered the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone, FGM in The Gambia, and the refugee crisis engulfing Europe and the Middle East.
Louis’ work has been published in the Guardian, the Evening Standard, the Sunday Times, the Telegraph, the Mirror, the International Business Times, Al-Jazeera, Vice News, Broadly, Huck, Nowness, Grazia, Marie Claire, Save the Children, War Child, and more. Louis is represented in the by the picture agency Eyevine.