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Sierra Leone’s Parliament Abolishes Child Marriage

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Sierra Leone’s parliament has approved a law criminalizing child marriage, a development hailed as a significant victory for children’s rights.

The legislation makes it illegal to marry girls under 18 years old, with offenders facing up to 15 years in prison.

This groundbreaking move is expected to have a profound impact on the lives of thousands of young girls in Sierra Leone, where one-third of all girls are married before their 18th birthday, according to UNICEF.

The country has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, with 800,000 child brides, 400,000 of whom were married before the age of 15.

Child marriage has long been a persistent problem in Sierra Leone, perpetuated by poverty and cultural practices.

Many girls are forced to drop out of school and are married off by their families to improve their financial situations or pay off debts.

This not only deprives them of their education but also exposes them to the risk of domestic violence, sexual exploitation, and health complications related to early pregnancy.

The new law is a significant step towards addressing these issues and ensuring that young girls in Sierra Leone have access to education, protection, and a chance to fulfill their potential.

Activists and human rights organizations have welcomed the development, praising the government for taking a bold step towards ending child marriage.

Sierra Leone’s President, Julius Maada Bio, has been a vocal advocate for girls’ education and has made ending child marriage a priority.

The government has also launched initiatives to increase access to education, particularly for girls, and to address the social and economic factors that contribute to child marriage.

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