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Child Marriage Banned In Sierra Leone, Offenders Face 15 Years in Prison

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File photo of a child bride

Sierra Leone has outlawed child marriage, with President Julius Maada Bio signing a bill into law that criminalizes the practice.

The new law, which was widely celebrated, imposes a 15-year prison sentence or a fine of around $4,000 on offenders, and also penalizes witnesses to such marriages.

The move is a significant step forward in protecting the rights of girls in Sierra Leone, where about a third of girls are married before adulthood.

According to the UN Children’s Agency, Sierra Leone is home to 800,000 child brides, with half of them married before the age of 15.

President Bio hailed the move, saying, “I have always believed that the future of Sierra Leone is female. This and future generations of girls must thrive in Sierra Leone in which they’re protected, equal and empowered.”

The law also provides improved access to education and support services for children affected by child marriage.

First Lady Fatima Bio, a Champion Campaigner Against Child Marriage

Fatima Bio

First Lady Fatima Bio was a key champion of the law, which was passed by parliament as a bipartisan bill in June.


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