April 4, 2016 By Joseph S. Margai
Efforts to eradicate early marriage in Sierra Leone have received a boost after Paramount Chief of Maforki chiefdom in the Port Loko district, P.C. Alkalie Mellah II, joined others to call for an end to the harmful practice to girls.
Speaking to Concord Times recently at Maforki during the site visitation to the Bankasoka dam recently, the traditional ruler said early marriage was very dangerous to girls, adding that society ought to do everything possible to protect girls from early marriage because they are our future.
“We have also tried to discourage parents to stop handing over their children to marriage. In our societies, parents take decision on what they want for their children. Since we have embarked on massive sensitisation about the danger of early marriage, majority of the parents have declined from that act,” he said.
With regards teenage pregnancy in his chiefdom, P.C. Alkalie Mellah II said it has decreased because of rigid penalties against perpetrators. He added that whenever such cases are brought to him, he would refer them to the Family Support Unit (FSU), noting that such cases are not easily compromised within his chiefdom.
Talking on the issue of rape in the chiefdom, the paramount ruler said no rape cases had been reported in his chiefdom for a very long time, although he admitted it sometimes occur in isolation.
“I have personally told all the chiefs and section chiefs of Maforki chiefdom to be vigilant and report to me any case of early marriage, rape and teenage pregnancy. I have urged them to protect our girls because they are the ones who could help develop our country in the future,” he said.
Among other challenges that the chiefdom grapples with, P.C. Mellah II inform this press that there is no pipe borne water in his chiefdom, which include the district headquarter town of Port Loko, adding that they access drinking water from hand-dug-wells which dry up in the dry season.
“We want the intervention of the government to help in providing clean and safe water facilities for our people,” he requested.
He, however, disclosed that 60 percent of roads in the township of Port Loko have been coated with asphaltic concrete (tarred). He joyfully puts it that, “bad roads within Port Loko township is now a thing of the past”.