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HomeForeign NewsSierra Leone First Lady, Fatima Maada Bio celebrates ban on child marriage

Sierra Leone First Lady, Fatima Maada Bio celebrates ban on child marriage

Fatima Maada Bio, the Sierra Leone’s First Lady, has celebrated with some of her countrywomen after a bill banning child marriage was passed by parliament.

On 21st of June, 2024, Sierra Leone parliament passed a historic bill to ban child marriage after girls across the country and Save the Children joined a campaign to criminalise the practice.

The Prohibition of Child Marriage Bill 2024 seeks to criminalise the act of marrying or entering into a union with a child under the age of 18.

The bill passed includes provisions for enforcing penalties on offenders, protecting victims’ rights, and ensuring access to education and support services for young girls affected by early child marriage.

However , the First Lady who took to her statement which she shared via her X page said in part: “Your dedication to this cause, despite the inevitable political differences that arise, is a testament to your shared belief in the importance of the early child marriage bill. This bill represents a significant step forward in protecting the rights of the next generation and a testament to the power of collaboration and shared purpose.

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“I also acknowledged the support and love from my husband #PresidentBio whose commitment to gender equality and support for this bill has been instrumental in driving this important initiative forward. I am grateful to him for giving me the space to do the work I love doing.

“I also thank Honourable Mariama Zombo, for presenting the bill in parliament on my behalf as a private member bill.

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“This bill aims to fill legal loopholes by prohibiting marriage before age 18 for both boys and girls without exceptions. It addresses enforcement challenges by establishing penalties for violations and calling upon community leaders to actively support its implementation. By strengthening existing laws and enhancing their enforcement, the bill seeks to create a more protective environment for all children in Sierra Leone.

“The debate showcased the collective will of parliamentarians to prioritize the well-being of girls and create a society where they can thrive and reach their full potential. The proposed legislation promises to empower girls through education and equal opportunities, reduce adolescent pregnancies, and contribute to better health outcomes. Ultimately, this bill represents a step towards gender equality and ensuring a safe environment for all children.

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“I called on all parliamentarians to work together to ensure the effective implementation of the law and to educate their constituents about its provisions. Together, we can create a brighter future for all.”

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 Ministry of Health.

Save the Children, a rights organisation worked with First Lady Fatima Maada Bio, the Ministry of Gender and Children’s Affairs, and other organisations to end child marriage in the country. [CONTINUE READING HERE]>>>>>

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