Photo credit: Dominic Chavez | World Bank
Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 15
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 18
* Child marriage prevalence is the percentage of women 20-24 years old who were married or in union before they were 18 years old (UNICEF State of the World’s Children, 2017)
39% of girls in Sierra Leone are married before their 18th birthday.
However, the child marriage rate has constantly declined during the past years, from 56% in 2006 to 48% in 2008 and 39% now.
UNFPA have highlighted that child marriage in Sierra Leone is linked to poverty, lack of education and geographical area.
Legal age of marriage
The Sierra Leone Child Rights Act prohibits marriage under the age of 18, regardless of whether the married is carried out under formal, customary or religious law.
However, the 2007 Customary Marriage Act also allows parents or local government officials to consent to a child’s marriage.
The Government of Sierra Leone is currently implementing “Let Girls be Girls, Not Mothers”, a two-year national strategy for the reduction of teenage pregnancy.
Global Programme on child marriage
Sierra Leone is one of 12 countries selected to be part of UNFPA and UNICEF’s Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage.
Members In Sierra Leone
- Chi-chi Cheery Foundation
- Child Welfare Society Sierra Leone
- Childhelp Sierra Leone
- Conscience International (CI)
- Defence for Children International
- Economic Empowerment and Human Rights Sierra Leone (EEHRSL)
- Forum for the Development of Young People
- Girl Child Network Worldwide
- Hagancatwright Organization
- National Co-operative of Students for Self-Reliance (NACORS)
- Passion for Humanity – Sierra Leone
- Recreation and Outdoor Pursuits through Experiential Submersion (ROPES)
- Service for Peace
- Street Youth Connection
- The Needy Today
- VSO International
- Yegesie International Open College of Technology (YIOTEC)
- Young Ambassadors Sierra Leone (YASiL)
- UNFPA, Sierra Leone: Child marriage country profile, 2010
- UNICEF, State of the World’s Children, 2016