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Sierra Leone Enacts Law to Ban Child Marriage

By Aisha Rufai Jega Sierra Leone President Julius Maada Bio has signed into law a landmark bill criminalizing child marriage. Child marriage has been a…

By Aisha Rufai Jega

Sierra Leone President Julius Maada Bio has signed into law a landmark bill criminalizing child marriage.

Child marriage has been a persistent problem in Sierra Leone, where nearly one-third of girls are married before the age of 18.

The practice has been linked to a range of higher rates of maternal mortality, and lack of education.

The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, which received parliamentary approval last month, imposes strict penalties, including at least 15 years or fined around $4,000, or both, for those who marry girls under 18.

First Lady Fatima Bio told BBC that the bill was a “personal battle” as she was almost a victim of child marriage.

“This law is a personal battle for me, as I was almost a victim of child marriage myself. I am determined to ensure that no girl in Sierra Leone suffers the same fate,” she said.

According to BBC, Khadijatu Barrie, a university student, who has personally experienced the dangers of child marriage, welcomed the law but expressed regret that it had not come sooner to save her younger sister and neighbors.

“I really wish it had happened earlier. I could have at least saved my sister and my friends and other neighbours,” the 26-year-old was quoted as saying.

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