President Yahya Jammeh of Gambia has banned child marriages, the AFP news agency reports.
According to the report, Jammeh announced a 20-year jail term for any man “who marries a girl under 18 years” and a heavier sentence of 21 years for the parents of the girl. Anyone who fails to report the marriage of an underaged girl would be jailed for 10 years.
“Anyone who marries a girl under 18 years will spend 20 years in jail. The girls’ parents would spend 21 years in jail and anyone who knows about it and fails to report the matter to the authorities would spend 10 years in jail,” Jammeh is quoted as saying by BBC.
President Jammeh also threatened a jail term for the Muslim cleric involved in the wedding ceremony, calling for legislation to confirm the ban later in July.
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Jammeh. who has been president for 22 years, declared the West African country an Islamic Republic in December 2015.
“As Muslims are the majority in the country, the Gambia cannot afford to continue the colonial legacy,” he told state TV, explaining his decision to proclaim an Islamic republic.
Jammeh’s relationship with Western countries have been frosty over his regime’s human rights abuses. In 2013, he withdrew Gambia from the Commonwealth, describing the organisation as neo-colonial.
In 2007, he claimed to have found a herbal cure for Aids.