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For marrying 12-year-old…

Man, 50, on the run

January 8, 2015 By Victoria Saffa

A 50-year-old man is currently on the run after he married a 12-year-old girl, according to Deputy Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affair, Mustapha Bai Atilla.

The minister disclosed to Concord Times that the police are in the hunt for Allieu Barrie, who violated child rights laws in the country by marrying the toddler at Grey Bush, off Ascension Road, west of the city.

 The Child Rights Act of 2007 prohibits underage marriage, but predominance of the practice among a number of ethnic groups, plus lax implementation regime by the relevant authorities, means the law is seldom enforced.

The current case involves members of the Fullah ethnic group, who are predominantly Muslim and still lay claim to rigid traditional norms.

According to the deputy minister, the suspect Allieu Barrie and the girl’s parents are currently on the run, although the police are still investigating the issue.

Minister Atilla revealed that the family of the 12-year-old had apparently given two of their daughters for marriage to two elderly tribesmen, and vowed to hunt down and prosecute both men.

“We are disturbed by this type of acts. We believe this person has a case to answer,” he said, adding that the government cannot allow people to use poverty as an excuse to marry off under-aged girls.

“The two victims are under safe keeping until police officers catch the suspect for proper investigations,” Atilla said.

Speaking to Concord Times, the victim, who is a Class Six pupil, narrated how the man had used his position and money to convince her parents to accept his marriage proposal.

“The man already has three wives with over 10 children who are older than me, and I decided to report the matter to the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs after the man attempted to sleep with me,” the 12-year-old said, who is now at a safe house run the Children’s Affairs ministry.