On Tuesday, Sierra Leone President Julius Maada Bio signed a bill into law that aims to end the practice of marrying girls under the age of 18. The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act signed into law by President Julius Maada Bio which plans to protect the rights and futures of young girls across the nation.

Sierra Leone Enacts Law to Ban Child Marriage

Also Read: Mohamed Ould Ghazouani Wins Re-Election in Mauritania with Over 56% of the Vote

The new legislation prohibits the marriage of girls under the age of 18. Violators of the law face severe penalties including a minimum of 15 years imprisonment and fines of approximately $4,000 (£3,200).

The law targets not only the groom but also parents, guardians and even attendees of the marriage ceremony.

The law was signed with fanfare attended by dignitaries and first ladies from Cape Verde and Namibia.

One-third of girls in Sierra Leone are married before the age of 18 contributing to the nation’s high maternal mortality rates.

Sierra Leone’s society is traditionally patriarchal often compelling young girls into early marriages arranged by their families.

Early marriage disrupts girls’ education and exposes them to health risks including complications from early pregnancies.

At 10, Khadijatu Barrie ran away from home to escape an arranged marriage. Her story tells the plight of many young girls in Sierra Leone.

Her sister, married at 14 was not as fortunate. Khadijatu found support from teachers and a UN worker who helped her continue her education.

Rights activists and international organizations have appreciated the new law as an achievement. The U.S. Bureau of African Affairs described it as a milestone for human rights protection.

The legislation is expected to break the cycle of early marriages and set an example for other African nations with similar issues.

Implementing the law in rural areas where tradition strongly dictates life choices may be challenging requiring awareness campaigns and community education.

First Lady Fatima Bio has been a strong advocate for women’s rights and played a crucial role in championing this legislation.

The law was passed by Sierra Leone’s parliament last month, a strong political commitment to ending child marriage.

Also Read: Series of Suicide Attacks in Nigeria Kills 18 and 19 Injured

Offenders including men who marry underage girls face at least 15 years in prison and a fine of approximately $4,000.

Parents and those attending such ceremonies can also be fined. The law also prohibits men from living with underage girls.

The legislation is expected to protect a huge portion of Sierra Leone’s female population, where around one-third of girls are married before 18.

Child marriage has been linked to increased maternal mortality rates due to the physical dangers of pregnancy at a young age.

The passage of the bill was welcomed as a milestone for human rights. The new law is seen as a catalyst for similar changes in other African nations such as Tanzania and Zambia.

West and Central Africa have the highest rates of child marriage globally with nearly 60 million child brides.

While child marriage rates in Sierra Leone have been declining with 30% of girls married before 18 in 2017 compared to 37% 25 years earlier.

Child brides often face lifelong disadvantages including being excluded from educational opportunities.

Former child brides in Sierra Leone have expressed relief and hope with some planning to seek annulments of their marriages under the new law.

Organizations like Save the Children have hailed the law as an achievement providing a model for protecting children’s rights.

West and Central Africa have some of the highest rates of child marriage globally with nearly 60 million child brides, according to UNICEF.

The new law in Sierra Leone sets a pathway for other countries in the region like Tanzania and Zambia to consider similar legislative actions to protect young girls.

Also Read: Aswan: Archaeologists Discover Over 1,400 Mummies in Egypt

Top Sources Related to Sierra Leone Enacts Law to Ban Child Marriage (For R&D)

CBS News:



ABC News:

NBC News:

BBC News:


More From Author