The Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL) Northern Region office has dissolved an early marriage of a 14 year old class four girl child (name withheld) in Kathekeyan Kaboli, Pa Ki Masangbon Chiefdom in the Bombali District.
The Commission’s investigation found out that the child was contracted in marriage by a forty two (42) year old Ibrahim Conteh resident of Makomp village, Bombali Shebora Chiefdom in Bombali District. The marriage was endorsed by both families of the child. Prior to her marriage, the child was a school going pupil in class 4 (four) at a Primary School in Katheyan Kaboli Village but had to abandon schooling for her marital home.
The Deputy Director of the HRCSL Northern Region office, Sahr Augustine Musa said after his office had received the complaint and after consideration of the evidence, they sent a notification to the husband advising an instantaneous nullification of the marriage warning that the act was in violation of provisions in the Child Rights Act of Sierra Leone.
“In ensuring compliance, HRCSL Northern Region office engaged the Family Support Unit of Mena Police Station in Makeni and on the 11th October, 2018, the husband was arrested and detained by joint operation supported by the police. On 12th October, a team headed by HRCSL and three police officers from FSU , a councilor of Makeni City and the town chief of Makomp Village took the girl child to Kathekeyan Kaboli Village to reunite her with her parents. The parents were cautioned by the police and in a meeting with stakeholders of Kathekeyan Kaboli village including the parents the marriage was dissolved and the parents and husband agreed to accept the child”. He said.
Augustine Musa said while the reunification was in progress an indigene of the village volunteered to assist the child back to School and is now in Makeni City attending.
Section 34(1) of the Child Rights Act, 2007 states that “The minimum age of marriage of whatever kind shall be eighteen years and that (2) No person shall force a child -(a) to be betrothed;(b) to be the subject of a dowry transaction; or(c) to be married”.
Early marriage of teenagers within the ages of 12 and 16 is a perennial problem caused cultural practice in the northern region of Sierra Leone. Families considered giving teenage girls to adult males in marriage for livelihood without taking into consideration the far reaching implications on the socio economic effects on the welfare of the child.
The child’s mother, Sama Kamara who already has six other children said she was not aware of her child’s marriage alleging it was the step father, Sennen Turay who gave her hand in marriage.
“The Commission is pleased that the girl was re-united with her parents and is continuing her schooling where she left off at class four. The police investigators are presently assessing the evidence for criminal charges against key suspects in the matter”. Sahr Augustine Musa opined.