Two girls in class at school in Kenema, Sierra Leone. Photo Credit: Ann Johansson/Getty Images

Society Sierra Leone8. July 2024

Historic Win Against Child Marriage

Sierra Leone has adopted a historic law banning child marriage, and an active campaign is in full force across the country to not only criminalize the practice but effectively punish the offenders and protect the victims’ rights.

“Girls who are married young are not only robbed of their childhoods, they are robbed of their futures,” states Patrick Analo, Save the Children Sierra Leone Country Director. “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.”

The international non-governmental organization has worked in Sierra Leone since 1999, focusing on children’s rights and protection, education, and health. Under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Bill 2024, it is illegal to marry to enter into a union with a child under the age of 18. Save the Children has undertaken a campaign to criminalize the widespread practice. Indeed, Sierra Leone has one of the highest child marriage, early pregnancy, and maternal mortality rates in the world, with one-third of girls getting married before the age of 18 and another third giving birth before the age of 19. Girls who have experienced firsthand the horrors of child marriage and became campaigners are in the best position to not only educate other girls against the practice but also to pressure authorities to enforce the ban and penalties on offenders.


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