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Sierra Leone Passes Law Banning Child Marriage

Sierra Leone, President Julius Maada Bio, child marriage

Sierra Leone has taken a bold step forward in the fight against child marriage. The nation recently passed groundbreaking legislation that not only addresses this harmful practice but also provides a lifeline to survivors. This new law is set to reshape the landscape of child marriage in Sierra Leone.

Hope for victims in Sierra Leone

At the heart of this legislation is a provision that empowers individuals forced into marriage as children to seek legal recourse. Notably, the law allows survivors to file for annulment, effectively erasing the legal bonds of their unwanted unions. This crucial aspect of the legislation offers hope and a path to freedom for countless individuals trapped in marriages they never chose.

One such individual, a 21-year-old Sierra Leonean woman, shared her story with Reuters under the condition of anonymity. Forced into marriage at the tender age of 14, she now sees a glimmer of hope in this new law. “I’m considering going to court,” she revealed, highlighting the immediate impact of this legislative change on those affected by child marriage.

Human rights groups see it as a major victory

Human rights advocates are hailing this law as a significant victory. Betty Kabari, a researcher at Human Rights Watch, emphasized the far-reaching implications of the legislation. “This should break the cycle of early marriage and its devastating consequences,” Kabari stated. She further noted that the law “sets a pathway forward for other African nations, such as Tanzania and Zambia, to revoke laws that permit child marriage.”

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Indeed, the ripple effects of Sierra Leone’s decision could be substantial. Neighbouring countries may be inspired to enact similar measures. This could potentially trigger a domino effect, leading to widespread reform across the continent in the fight against child marriage.

Moreover, the law doesn’t just address past injustices; it aims to prevent future ones. By providing a legal framework that explicitly condemns and penalises child marriage, Sierra Leone is sending a clear message about the value and rights of its young citizens.

With inputs from Reuters