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Sierra Leone adopts law banning child marriage

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Sierra Leone officially banned child marriage on Tuesday with President Julius Maada Bio signing into law a bill to end the practice that remains widespread.
Advocates hope the new legislation will better protect girls in Sierra Leone, around a third of whom are married before they turn 18, increasing the maternal death rate due to the physical risks they face from pregnancy, according to the health ministry.

“This is an accomplishment that will define my administration,” said President Bio, calling it a “beacon of hope in Africa where women have boundless opportunities to be and determine their future and inspire the world.”

He urged the country to “nurture” equality “by eliminating all forms of violence and exclusion vices against our own women”.

Under the law, any man who marries a girl under the age of 18 could face at least 15 years in prison and a heavy fine.
Parents or those attending such marriage ceremonies could also face fines.

In Sierra Leone, a country of nine million people, there were 800,000 wives aged under 18 in 2017, including 400,000 aged less than 15, according to UNICEF.


Story compiled with assistance from wire reports

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