July 18, 2024

Sierra Leone bans child marriage, offenders, witnesses to face 15 years in jail

A bill banning child marriage in Sierra Leone has been signed into law.

The law makes it criminal for any girl below 18 years to be married out.

President Julius Maada Bio said on approving the bill that the law will protect girls, a third of whom were before now married before they reached 18.

According to the United Nations Children’s Fund, Sierra Leone is home to 800,000 child brides, half of them married before age 15.

Under the new law, offenders face up to 15 years in prison or a fine of around $4,000 or both.

The new law does not spare witnesses of underage marriage, as they are to also face jail or a fine.

Excited President Bio commented on social media platform X, “I have always believed that the future of Sierra Leone is female. This and future generations of girls must thrive in Sierra Leone in which they’re protected, equal and empowered.”

The bill which President Bio has just signed into law was passed by the Parliament last month, June 21.

The Prohibition of Child Marriage Bill 2024 includes provisions for ensuring access to education and support services for young girls, a provision considered vital in a country where poverty forces many girls of school age to keep out of school.

Sierra Leone, with its capital in Free Town, is a West African country of about nine million people.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *