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Child marriage is a severe violation of human rights and a serious form of child abuse. Global statistics report that every year approximately 15 million girls are married before the age of 18. The region of West and Central Africa has the highest prevalence rate of child marriage in Africa, and the world’s second highest prevalence rate (after South Asia)[1]. In Sierra Leone the picture is equally daunting. According to the Demographic Health Survey 2013, 28 percent of adolescents aged 15-19 years in Sierra Leone have begun childbearing, and 38.9 percent of 20-24 year olds were married before the age of 18.  Additionally, the survey revealed that maternal mortality in Sierra Leone is still one of the highest at 1,360 per 100,000 live births; teenage child bearing contributes to nearly one third (28 per cent) of all pregnancies nationwide; and 40 per cent of maternal deaths occur as a result of teenage pregnancy.
UNFPA and UNICEF are jointly implementing the Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage. The Global Programme approach recognises that ending child marriage will involve addressing complex socio-cultural and structural factors which contribute to child marriage over an extended period.