Sierra Leone President Julius Maada Bio has declared the prevalence of rape and sexual violence a national emergency.
He said those convicted of sexual offences against minors would face life in prison.
The move follows a national outcry over the rape of a five-year old by a relative a year ago.
The victim was left partly paralysed by the attack.
Police say the number of recorded cases of sexual and gender-based violence in Sierra Leone almost doubled last year to more than 8,500, from 4,750.
President Bio told reporter Umaru Fofana that every means within the law would be used to stop the offence.