HRCSL dissolves early marriage of a class four pupil

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October 19, 2018

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 Masangbon Chiefdom in the Bombali District.

 In compliance with Section 7 of the Human Rights Commission Act, 2004, 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 she had to abandon schooling for her marital home.

The Deputy Director of the HRCSL Northern Region office, Sahr Augustine Musa narrated that 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 said 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 narrated.

Augustine Musa continued that while the reunification was in progress an indigene of the village volunteered to assist the child back to School who is now in Makeni City attending.

Early marriage of teenagers within the ages of 12 and 16 is aperennialproblem and cultural practice in the northern region of Sierra Leone. Families considered giving girl child to adult male in marriage as an economic adventure of promoting family 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 maintained that she was not aware of her child’s marriage alleging it was the step father, Sennen Turay that gave her hand in marriage. “The Commission is pleased that the girl child was re-united with her parents and 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.

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”.