Sierra Leone: Sierra Leone Bans Child Marriage

Sierra Leone’s lawmakers have adopted the Prohibition of Child Marriage Bill 2024 to ban child marriage in the country. Hundreds of thousands of children, the vast majority of whom are girls, are victims of early marriage or union.

The law will impose prison sentences of at least 15 years with minimum fines of at least 50,000 leones (2,000 euros).

Sierra Leone has one of the highest child marriage, early pregnancy, and maternal mortality rates in the world, with about one-third of girls married before the age of 18 and another third giving birth before the age of 19, according to the country’s health ministry.

Patrick Analo, Save the Children Sierra Leone Country Director, said: “This is a historic moment and an extraordinary achievement for children across Sierra Leone who have campaigned for their rights.

“Girls who are married young are not only robbed of their childhoods – they are robbed of their futures. They experience lifelong harm to their physical and mental health, are barred from opportunities to learn, grow, play, and develop, and are shut out from future educational and economic opportunities that also impact their families and communities.

“Children have now stood up and said: “Give us our futures back.” And thanks to them, this will be a new reality for nearly four million children across Sierra Leone.”