Sierra Leone: New law banning child marriage officially introduced

Sierra Leone President Bio stated at the occasion that his "motivation and commitment to empowering women and girls is firmly rooted in my personal life journey".
Sierra Leone: New law banning child marriage officially introduced

Sierra Leone officially prohibited child marriage on Tuesday, when President Julius Maada Bio signed the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, which aims to put an end to the widespread practice.

It took place at a ceremony hosted by First Lady Fatima Bio in Freetown, with invited guests including the first ladies of Cape Verde and Namibia.

Anyone currently participating in the marriage of a girl under the age of 18 will face at least 15 years in prison, a $4,000 (£3,200) fine, or both.

According to the ministry of health, one-third of girls marry before the age of 18, contributing to the country's high maternal mortality rate, which is among the highest in the world.

The groom, the minor bride's parents or guardians, and even those who attend the wedding will all face penalty under the new guidelines.

President Bio stated at the occasion that his "motivation and commitment to empowering women and girls is firmly rooted in my personal life journey".

His eight-year-old daughter was one of those who witnessed him sign the measure. The 60-year-old president added that he had lost his father at a young age and was raised by his mother and then his elder sister, who "supported and encouraged me to pursue my dreams to the best of my ability".

He commended his wife's dedication to women's rights: “Together, we want to build an empowered Sierra Leone where women are given an even platform to reach their full potential. I have always believed that the future of Sierra Leone is female.”

The U.S. Bureau of African Affairs celebrated the bill's passing on their X page, calling it a "significant milestone that not only protects girls but also promotes robust human rights protections".

According to UNICEF, West and Central Africa have the world's greatest frequency of child marriage, with almost 60 million child brides.

Sierra Leone: New law banning child marriage officially introduced

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