BY CORNELIA OLABISI THOMPSON
Photo Credit: Africa Health Organisation
Marriage is a legally sanctioned contract between a man and a woman. Entering into a marriage contract changes both parties' legal status, giving the husband and wife new rights and obligations. Public policy is firmly in favour of marriage based on the belief that it preserves the family unit.
In Sierra Leone, the Civil Marriage Act, Cap 97 of 1910, as amended section 7 governs marriages under statutory law. Still, it considers the case where one of the spouses' law is customary law. In this case, the legal age for marriage is 18; otherwise, it's 21. Statistics have shown that 30% of girls in Sierra Leone are married before 18, and 13% are married before 15. 7% of boys in sierra leone are married before the age of 18, making Sierra Leone one of the top 20 countries with the highest prevalence of child marriage among young boys. This statistic shows that most young people entered unions that are not registered as a formal marriage.