Sierra Leone Social Condition Facts

Social conditions

Sierra Leone is one of the world’s poorest and least developed countries, where conditions for a good life are still limited. Although the economic development after the civil war has been relatively good, little has yet been done to benefit the general population. The Ebola outbreak in 2014–2015 further aggravated the situation.

The war caused unimaginable suffering to the people. The conflict claimed tens of thousands of lives. More than two million people lost their homes and tens of thousands of body parts were cut off during rebel attacks. Several studies indicate that more than a quarter of a million million women and girls are exposed to some form of sexual violence. Even after the war, rape has been a major problem. Many people are also plagued by mental problems and severe trauma, which have also increased after the Ebola crisis. If the care of physical ailments is under-dimensioned, then mental health care is almost non-existent.

In 2018, Sierra Leone ranked 184 out of 189 countries according to the UN Development Index, which measures life expectancy, child mortality, health status, access to clean drinking water, education level, etc. The country has climbed a few steps on the list in recent years but still lives well over half. of the population in poverty and every day means a hard fight for survival. The worst is for women and children. According to the UN Children’s Fund Unicef, Sierra Leone 2012 was the country in the world where most children under five years died. Maternal mortality was highest in the world in 2008 After that, efforts have been made to reduce the numbers, but still approximately 1,360 women per 100,000 births died in 2015.

sierra leone population

Teenage pregnancies are common.

Many women die in connection with illegal abortions. A new abortion law was passed by Parliament in 2015, but it was not approved by the then President Koroma.

Diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis are widespread and epidemics of, for example, typhus and the hemorrhagic disease, lassic fever often occur. In 2012, a cholera epidemic broke out that claimed several hundred lives. In 2014, the country was affected by the contagious disease Ebola and until Sierra Leone could be declared free of infection in November 2015, more than 14,000 people had been infected, of whom almost 4,000 had died. During the epidemic there were reports of increased violence against women.

Data on the spread of HIV and AIDS are vague and contradictory, but around 1.4 percent of the adult population is expected to live with HIV in 2015. The spread varies between different social groups, but it is clear that Sierra Leone is not as severely affected as the countries in southern Africa..

In September 2017, the government announced that half a million people would be vaccinated against cholera. The campaign was funded with money from the vaccination alliance Gavi. This occurs after the country was hit hard by the fall and floods in August of the same year.

The Government has invested in improving the health situation for women and children. Among other things, the majority of all children under five years of age have been vaccinated against diseases such as measles. Already in 2010, children under five, pregnant and lactating women were given the right to free health care. The reform, which also included large pay raises for health care workers, was funded with assistance from the UN and the United Kingdom but still straining the Treasury. In a speech at the end of 2015, the then President Koroma pressed hard for the reform to continue but in order to do so, continued external assistance is required. There have also been reports of how drugs that would have been distributed free of charge instead of being sold on the open market. There are also suspicions that some of the money that the government has allocated to fight Ebola has been wasted.

Women often have prominent places in society in both business and politics and administration, but they have to work hard to reach such positions. Women are usually forced to perform work and take on extra tasks at work that their male counterparts in the corresponding position do not have to. In the countryside, men do the hardest work of plowing the fields and preparing new cultivated fields, while the women are basically responsible for the rest: sow and harvest, collect firewood, collect water, cook, sell fruits and vegetables in the market, take care of the children and prepare clothes. A man can, without embarrassment, walk beside his wife who dignifies under a very wooden log, without helping, since it is not his job to carry firewood.

In Muslim communities and in rural areas, it is often common for a man to take several wives and raise as many children as possible. Having many children is a long-term investment, as there will eventually be more people who can work and make money for the family, the daughters can bring in marriage and important alliances with other families can be created through appropriate marriage for the children.

Modern laws give women basically the same inheritance rights as men, but in practice the tradition usually applies to women being treated as children in this respect. A woman who loses her husband risks her husband’s brothers taking her home and the possessions she had in common with her husband. She may also be subjected to strong pressure to marry a brother-in-law like his second, third or fourth wife.

In 2007, several laws came into force that strengthen women’s rights. Women’s trafficking has become a criminal offense and women have been granted inheritance rights to real estate. In addition, a law was introduced that protects young women from forced marriage. However, a bill in 2013 that at least 30 percent of the members of parliament, local councils, ministries etc. would be women, was rejected by parliament. At the 2012 election, 14 women were elected to Parliament (corresponding to 11 percent of the members), which was fewer than in the 2007 election.

Although the Sexual Offenses Act of 2012 has increased the penalty for sexual violence, this growing problem is a major problem. According to police statistics, the number of reported sexual offenses increased from just over 4,700 in 2017 to more than 8,500 in 2018. In over 2,500 of the 2018 cases, the victim was 15 years or younger. According to a domestic voluntary organization, about 150 women a month become pregnant after rape. At the end of 2018, the president’s wife Fatima Bio started a new organization “Hands off our Girls” to fight sexual violence, child trafficking, child marriage and teenage pregnancies. In 2018, only 26 people were convicted of rape. Lack of resources at the police, few of the victims have enough money to cope with a legal process, an ineffective and corrupt judicial system are some reasons for that. One of the 26 convicted in 2018 was a 56-year-old man who was sentenced to one year in prison for rape on a six-year-old girl. This is despite the fact that the law prescribes imprisonment of between five and 15 years.

Female genital mutilation is permitted from the age of five. According to the UN Children’s Fund Unicef, 80-90 percent of women are sexually abused. During the Ebola epidemic, a temporary ban on genital mutilation of women was introduced. Child prostitution is becoming more and more common.

Homosexual intercourse is prohibited and can be punishable by imprisonment for up to ten years. Discrimination against gay, bisexual or transsexual persons is widespread.


Infant Mortality: 79 per 1000 births (2018)

Percentage of HIV infected: 1.5 percent (2018)

Proportion of HIV infected among young women

1.1 percent (2018)

Proportion of HIV infected among young men: 0.5 percent (2018)

Proportion of population with access to clean water: 58.1 percent (2015)

Proportion of the population having access to toilets: 15.7 percent (2017)

Public expenditure on health care as a percentage of GDP: 18.3 percent (2015)

Public expenditure on health care per person: $ 86 (2016)

Proportion of women in parliament: 12 percent (2018)