Legally, rape is a criminal offence which carries a jail term of between five and 15 years, according to the 2012 sexual offences act - a law that Sierra Leone reworked and toughened specifically to combat sexual predators.
Sierra Leone has declared a national emergency over sexual and gender-based violence after recorded cases of rape and assault doubled over the a year ago.
Police statistics cited by VOA state that reported cases of sexual and gender-based violence almost doubled a year ago to over 8,500, a third of which involved a minor.
Many sexual assaults go unpunished.
Nearly half of Sierra Leone's women face sexual or physical violence during their lifetime, and 90 percent of women ages 15 to 49 have been victims of genital cutting, according to United Nations data.
"We as a nation must stand up and address this scourge", he said.
Activists have been campaigning for months, and this prompted the president to declare a national emergency yesterday, saying those convicted of rape and sexual offenses against minors would face life in prison.
Rape and sexual assault have been declared a national emergency in Sierra Leone, as reported cases of gender-based violence continued to rise in the West African country.
Mr Bio said attacks on minors - which account for a third of all cases - would be punished with a life sentence.
"All government hospitals must provide free medical treatment and medical certificates to every rape and sexual abuse victim", he said.
Many victims contract sexual diseases, including HIV, from being raped and hundreds also become pregnant.
Public mobilization for tougher rape laws was spurred by the rape of a 5-year-old girl by a 28-year-old male relative.
The announcement comes amid calls by activists and Sierra Leone's First Lady Fatima Bio for stricter punishment for perpetrators of sexual violence.
In December, the first lady led a demonstration in the capital to raise awareness on the issue, and has since launched her "Hands Off Our Girls" campaign on violence against girls across West Africa. The attack crippled the girl's spine, leaving her paralyzed for life.
During a 10-year civil war (1991-2002), thousands of women and girls were subjected to widespread and systematic sexual violence and rape, a 2003 Human Rights Watch report found.
According to the Rainbo Initiative, a local organization providing free medical services and counseling to survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, 76 percent of rape victims in 2018 were below the age of 15.