Vice President Victor Bockarie Foh has stated that teenage pregnancy and child marriage were social vices that the government notes with serious concern.
Foh was speaking yesterday at the Bank Complex during the official launch of a campaign to put an end to the practice of Child Marriage, a campaign championed by the African Union and other development partners.
Ambassador Foh noted that child marriage was a human rights violation and that it impedes the development of girls across the country, stating that the practice places children at risk of multiple deprivations and constitutes an obstacle to the attainment of the country’s Sustainable Development Goals.
He said government has manifested a strong commitment to eradicate the menace by passing into law, the Child Rights Act of 2007 and the Registration of customary Marriage and Divorce Act.
“As a testament of President Koroma’s government commitment and concern for upholding the fundamental rights of the child, government passed into law the Child Rights Act 2007, which seeks to preserve the self-esteem, dignity and respect of all children,” he noted.
He said through the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, Government has also adopted a robust Child Welfare Policy that would help strengthen the child protection system in the country.
He maintained that the occasion was a testament to renew a commitment government made last year, while commemorating the Day of the African Child.
“We renew this commitment again today and we shall consolidate our fight to ensure children of this country grow to attain their fullest potentials,” he assured.
First Lady, Sia Nyama Koroma told participants that child marriage was a violation of Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,as well a blatant discrimination against women.
She said about seven hundred million women globally married before the age of eighteen and that Sierra Leone has the highest number of child marriage.
She said child marriage causes early pregnancy and expose the girl children to disease like fistula, HIV&AID, psychological stress and other sexually transmitted diseases, which would subsequently lead to early death.
Ambassador to Ethopia, Mustapha S. Kalokoh, who also doubles as the head of the commission at the Africa Union (AU) said the organization was having several rules to protect women and girls across the country. He urged all and sundry to take the campaign to community levels across the country.