Sierra Leone bans child marriage, offenders, witnesses to face 15 years in jail

Sierra Leone has passed a new law that bans child marriage.

The law says it is a crime to marry any girl who is under 18 years old.

President Julius Maada Bio supports the new law. He says it will protect girls. Before this law, one-third of girls in Sierra Leone were married before they turned 18.

According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Sierra Leone has 800,000 child brides. Half of them were married before they were 15 years old.

Under the new law, people who break it can go to prison for up to 15 years. They may also have to pay a fine of about $4,000, or both.

The law also punishes people who know about child marriages but don’t report them. They can also go to jail or pay a fine.

President Bio shared his happiness on social media. He said, "I have always believed that Sierra Leone's future is female. Girls now and in the future must thrive in Sierra Leone. They should be protected, equal, and empowered."

The law President Bio signed was passed by Sierra Leone's Parliament on June 21, last month.

The Prohibition of Child Marriage Bill 2024 also helps girls get education and support. This is important in Sierra Leone, where many girls cannot go to school because they are poor.

Sierra Leone is a West African country with about nine million people. Its capital city is Freetown.

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