By Alpha Kamara
Six of the 10 countries with the world’s highest prevalence of child marriage are in West and Central Africa, where 20,000 girls are married illegally daily, a report said Monday.
Worldwide,15 million girls are forcefully married every year, according to the report.
The data was revealed at a high-level regional meeting in Dakar to discuss ways of reducing child marriage in the sub-region.
The regional session, chaired by Senegal’s Prime Minister Mohammed Abdallah Dionne, was attended by three first ladies, female ministers and child rights activists with the aim of strengthening laws to reduce the trend.
First Ladies in attendance were Sierra Leone’s Sia Nyama Koroma, Burkina Faso’s Bella Sika
At the meeting, organized by UNICEF, UNFPA, Save the Children and Plan International, several girls were allowed to share their stories on the situation in their countries and called for action.
Sierra Leone’s First Lady Sia Nyama Koroma said her country has one of the highest child marriage rates in the world as it is deeply rooted in the culture.
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Niger, Chad, Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Central African Republic, Nigeria and Sierra Leone are among the highest in terms of child marriage prevalence and government representatives all made commitments to end the practice through the enforcement of effective laws.