27 June 2024 - Sierra Leone

Ending Child Marriage: A New Dawn in Sierra Leone

Cousins Kuji*, 19 and Kpemeh*, 18 wear their Ending Child Marriage Champion t-shirts in Kailahun, Sierra Leone.

Cousins Kuji*, 19 and Kpemeh*, 18 wear their Ending Child Marriage Champion t-shirts in Kailahun, Sierra Leone. Shona Hamilton / Save the Children

In a monumental step for children's rights, Sierra Leone's parliament has passed a landmark bill prohibiting child marriage. This historic legislation represents a profound change for the future of Sierra Leone's children and a significant achievement in the fight for their protection and well-being.

A Victory for Children's Rights

The passing of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Bill is a testament to the tireless efforts of countless individuals and organizations, including Save the Children, who have long championed the rights and well-being of children. This legislation is more than just a legal decree; it represents a commitment to safeguarding the futures of thousands of girls who have been vulnerable to the devastating impacts of early marriage.

The Stark Reality of Child Marriage

Child marriage has been a pervasive issue in Sierra Leone, driven by deeply entrenched cultural and socio-economic factors. According to Save the Children, 39% of girls in Sierra Leone are married before their 18th birthday, with 13% married before they turn 15. These statistics represent real lives—girls who are denied their childhoods, education, and opportunities for a better future

One poignant example is Adama, a young girl we encountered during our fieldwork. At just 15, she was forced into marriage, ending her dreams of becoming a teacher. Her story is a stark reminder of why this legislation is crucial. It is stories like Adama's that fuel our determination to fight for change.

Empowering Girls Through Education

Education is a powerful tool in the fight against child marriage.

The new bill not only criminalizes child marriage but also emphasizes the importance of education for girls. By keeping girls in school, we can provide them with the knowledge and skills they need to make informed decisions about their lives and futures. Education empowers girls to break the cycle of poverty and contributes to the socio-economic development of their communities.

A Collaborative Effort

The journey to passing this bill was not easy, and it required the collaboration of various stakeholders, including civil society organizations, government agencies, and international partners.

The First Lady of Sierra Leone, civil society organizations like the Child Rights Coalition, line ministries, and the Children's Forum Network all played pivotal roles. Save the Children also contributed significantly by conducting research, raising awareness, and advocating for policy change. This collaborative approach is essential in ensuring that the implementation of the bill is effective and sustainable.

Looking Ahead

While the passing of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Bill is a monumental step forward, it is just the beginning. Ensuring that the law is enforced and that communities are educated about the harmful effects of child marriage is crucial.

We must work closely with local leaders, educators, and families to change mindsets and create an environment where girls can thrive.

We encourage everyone to support our ongoing efforts to end child marriage and protect children's rights.

Together, we can make a difference. Together, we can ensure a brighter future for all children in Sierra Leone and around the world.


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