Lebanon rape law scrapped: Rapist can no longer escape punishment on marrying the victim

Lebanon rape law scrapped: Rapist can no longer escape punishment on marrying the victim

 

 The parliament of Lebanon has abolished the law under which a rapist could be exempted from the punishment of rape on marrying his victim.

It has been constantly pleaded and demanded by women’s rights activist that Article 522 of the penal code be repealed.Their campaign was supported by the Minister for Women’s Affairs, Jean Oghassabian, who mentioned that the law was like something “from the Stone Age”.

Recently, both Tunisia and Jordan have abolished a similar legislation.

States holding on to  a comparable loophole include Algeria, Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya and Syria.

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It was agreed in last December by the members of the Lebanese parliamentary committee for administration and justice  to submit a proposal to repeal Article 522.

Prime Minister Saad Hariri conveyed his support for the measure at the time, but it took until Wednesday for a vote to be held.

 

Article 522 allowed for faltering the prosecution or suspending the arrest and conviction of a person who had committed the crime of rape, kidnapping, or statutory rape if he got married to the victim.

According to one activist the law allowed “for a second assault on a rape survivor’s rights in the name of ‘honour’ by trapping her in a marriage with her rapist”.

The women’s rights group Abaad called the repeal of Article 522 a “triumph for the dignity of women” and thanked MPs for “strengthening the protection of women from all forms of violence”.

 

But another local rights group named  Kafa,  said it was only a “partial victory”.

A post on Facebook warned that the effect of Article 522 “continues under Article 505, which involves sex with a minor who is 15 years of age, as it does through Article 518, which concerns the seduction of a minor with the promise of marriage”.

Expressing similar concerns, Mr Oghassabian, wrote on Twitter: “While we address and welcome the repeal of Article 552 of the penal code, we have reservations regarding keeping Articles 505 and 518. There are no exceptions for escaping punishment for rape.”

The action of  repeal taken in to this matter has been addressed after years of campaigning by women’s rights groups, including viral videos, a billboard showing a woman in a bloodied and torn gown with the caption “A white dress cannot cover up rape”, and an online petition.

 

In April, an art installation arranged by Abaad saw 30 wedding dresses strung up from nooses between the palm trees on Beirut’s famous seafront.

Activists also demanded the Lebanon’s parliament to take into account  the issue of marital rape.

As per Article 503 of the penal code  the crime of rape is defined as  “forced sexual intercourse [against someone] who is not his wife by violence or threat”. The 2014 law on domestic violence meanwhile makes threats or violence by a spouse to claim a “marital right to intercourse” a crime, but does not penalize the non-consensual violation of physical integrity itself, as per the Human Rights Watch.

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