Sierra Leone Takes Major Step With Child Marriage Outlawed In The Country

Sierra Leone Takes Major Step With Child Marriage Outlawed In The Country

President Julius Maada Bio signed a bill into law, officially banning child marriage in the West African nation. This move aims to protect countless girls from a harmful practice that affects roughly a third of them before they even reach adulthood.

The new law criminalizes marriage for any girl under 18. Offenders face a hefty punishment: up to 15 years in prison,a fine of around $4,000, or both. But the law goes further, holding even witnesses accountable. Those present at illegal child marriages will also face jail time or a fine.

President Bio celebrated this milestone, stating his belief that “the future of Sierra Leone is female.” He emphasized the importance of protecting girls, ensuring equality, and empowering them for a brighter future.

The statistics highlight the urgency of this legislation. According to UNICEF, Sierra Leone has a staggering 800,000 child brides, with half married before the age of 15.

First Lady Fatima Bio played a key role in championing this law. She, along with others, recognized its potential to improve girls’ lives. When the bill passed parliament with bipartisan support in June, she called it a “significant step forward” towards protecting the rights of future generations.

This law marks a significant victory for girls’ rights in Sierra Leone. It offers hope for a future where girls are free to pursue their education, goals, and dreams without being forced into marriage at a young age.

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