Groundbreaking Law: Sierra Leone Bans Child Marriage with Unprecedented Legal Measures—Thanks to Dr. Fatima Bio!

Sierra Leone (Afrinity)-On rainy Tuesday, July 2, 2024, Sierra Leonean President, Bri-Gen. Dr. Julius Maada Bio, signed into Law Sierra Leone’s Anti- Child Marriage Act; which allows child brides to annul their marriages and be financially compensated.

Salone Women, wives, mothers and daughters have the West Africa nation’s First Lady, Dr. Fatima Maada Bio to thank for the emergence of the groundbreaking Law.

Another of her Pet projects, Fatima has once again demonstrated her superior skills at giving value to the office of the First Lady over and above many of her predecessors, peers, past and present; across Africa.

Prohibiting marriage for children of age 18 and younger, the Law imposes steep fines on adult spouses.

Widely applauded as victory for activists who had long fought to eradicate the widespread practice, the new legislation, Experts assert, goes further than most similar laws in Africa, by penalizing people who enable the marriage — like the parents, the officiant and even the wedding guests — in addition to the husband.

In other words, and in layman’s understanding, the Legislative instrument has thrown a studded Legal ring around the conception, preparation and execution of weddings involving minors, inclusively.

Consequently, because of this Law, Churches and Mosques etc would ensure the wedding their worship centers are about to officiate do not involve brides of less than 19 years old.

Parents now know it is a crime to marry their daughters off, at less than 19. The MC, Chairman of the occasion, indeed cake maker, all may now be careful of weddings for which they are requested to play those roles.

With this bold legislative victory, Dr. Fatima has proven that her hands off our Girls campaign is not limited to prevention of and battle against rape of young Sierra Leonean Girls.

Worth considering is the fact that because of her effort on the success of the Law, those married as children can now seek financial compensation; with a path out of their marriages by petitioning for an annulment.

According to a 2020 UNICEF Report, an estimated 800,000 girls under the age of 18 were married in Sierra Leone, amounting to about a third of the girls in the country.

Half of these had been married by the time they turned 15; while about four percent of boys are wedded by 18, according to Human Rights Watch.

By the new legislation, Sierra Leone’s First Lady will be saving many young girls from leaving school because of Child marriage; while she will be saving many more, who may be about to fall prey to child marriage menace; by preventing teenage pregnancy.

Most importantly, Salone’s First Lady will be helping Sierra Leonean women avoid long-term injuries and trauma; arising from Marriages of Minors.

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