Sierra Leone outlaws child marriages


Sierra Leone President, Julius Maada Bio

from TETEH KAMARA in Freetown, Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone Bureau
FREETOWN, (CAJ News) – SIERRA Leone’s ban on child marriages is hailed as a breakthrough in the fight against gender-based violence.

This week, President Julius Maada Bio signed into law the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act (2024).

“We welcome this historic law banning child marriage in Sierra Leone,” said Samira Daoud, Amnesty International Regional Director for West and Central Africa.

Daoud said this legislation, in criminalizing marriage for anyone under the age of 18, sought to protect girls from a deeply harmful practice that has long violated their rights and hindered their education, health and well-being.

“This represents a major step forward in the fight against gender-based violence,” the activist said.

Daoud called on the Sierra Leonean authorities to now take the necessary measures to ensure the full implementation of the law, including a national awareness raising campaign, especially focused in rural areas.

“We also urge other countries in West and Central Africa who have not done so, to outlaw child marriage,” Daoud said.

According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), West and Central Africa had the highest prevalence of child marriages in the world in 2023.

In Sierra Leone, 30 percent of women aged 20 to 24 years were first married or in union between 15 and 18.

Through a programme implemented in Burkina Faso, Senegal and Sierra Leone, Amnesty International has been working since 2017 to prevent and reduce child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation.

This is through education, awareness raising and advocacy, with a view to bringing about attitudinal and behavioural change and legislative reform in these countries.

– CAJ News

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