Sierra Leone: Enforcing Child Marriage Ban

Child Marriage

The signing of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2024 by President Julius Maada Bio is a historic feat for Sierra Leone that the government and its agency must now enforce to ensure the protection of girls’ rights.

Development Diaries reports that President Bio, in the company of the first ladies of Cape Verde and Namibia, signed the bill into law banning child marriage in the West African country.

Under the law, any man involved in the marriage of a girl under the age of 18 will face a minimum of 15 years in prison, a $4,000 fine, or both.

The law also includes provisions to protect the rights of victims and ensure that affected minors have access to education and support services.

‘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’, President Bio said in a statement.

Approximately 800,000 of the country’s eight million people are child brides, with half marrying before turning 15, according to the United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF).

While the passing of the law by the president is commendable, it is contradicted by the Customary Marriage and Divorce Act of 2009, which allows underage children to be married with parental consent.

The historic law is indeed a positive step towards the protection of girls in the country, however, the government and lawmakers must provide clarity on the contradiction between the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2024 and the Customary Marriage and Divorce Act of 2009.

Development Diaries calls on President Bio to ensure the enforcement of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2024.

Source: Sierra Leone Times

Photo source: Paul Kagame


About the Author