Sierra Leone outlaws child marriage: Up to 15 years in jail

Sierra Leone’s parliament has taken a significant step towards protecting children by passing a new law banning child marriage.

The bill, hailed as “historic” by children’s rights organization Save the Children, criminalizes marrying girls under the age of 18.

Offenders now face a potential prison sentence of up to 15 years or a hefty fine exceeding $2,000.

“This is a historic moment,” said Patrick Analo, head of Save the Children in Sierra Leone.

He emphasized the importance of this legislation for countless children who have advocated for their rights.

Analo pointed out that child marriage not only robs girls of their childhood but also hinders their future opportunities.

The urgency of addressing child marriage in Sierra Leone is underscored by UNICEF data.

According to the UN agency, one-third of all girls in the country are married before turning 18.

The situation is particularly severe with 800,000 child brides nationwide, with 400,000 married off before the age of 15.

While child marriage rates have been slowly declining in Sierra Leone, the new law represents a crucial step forward.

The bill now awaits President Julius Maada Bio’s signature to officially become law.

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