Sierra Leone Bans Child Marriage With New Law

Sierra Leone has taken a significant step towards protecting the rights of young girls by enacting a new law that bans child marriage in the country. The new law, which was passed by the Parliament of Sierra Leone and signed into law by President Julius Maada Bio, aims to put an end to the harmful practice of marrying off young girls before they are physically and emotionally ready.

Child marriage has long been a deeply entrenched cultural practice in Sierra Leone, with nearly one in three girls being married before the age of 18. This practice not only robs young girls of their childhood but also exposes them to a myriad of health risks, including early pregnancy, childbirth complications, and a higher likelihood of contracting sexually transmitted infections.

The new law, known as the Child Rights Act, raises the minimum age of marriage to 18 years for both boys and girls. It also stipulates that any person who performs, witnesses, or facilitates a child marriage can be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.

This landmark legislation is a major victory for human rights activists and advocates who have been working tirelessly to end child marriage in Sierra Leone. The law sends a strong message that the government is committed to protecting the rights of its most vulnerable citizens and ensuring that all children have the opportunity to live healthy, happy, and fulfilling lives.

In addition to criminalizing child marriage, the Child Rights Act also includes provisions for protecting children from all forms of abuse, exploitation, and discrimination. It establishes a framework for ensuring that children have access to education, healthcare, and other essential services that are critical for their well-being and development.

While the passage of this law is a significant milestone, the fight against child marriage is far from over. Changing deeply ingrained cultural norms and attitudes towards child marriage will require sustained efforts from all sectors of society, including government officials, community leaders, religious leaders, and grassroots organizations.

Sierra Leone’s decision to ban child marriage is a testament to the country’s commitment to upholding the rights of its children and ensuring that they have the opportunity to reach their full potential. By taking this bold step, Sierra Leone is setting an example for other countries in the region and around the world to follow suit and put an end to the harmful practice of child marriage.