Lebanon ditches marriage loophole for rapists

family law

The Lebanese Parliament has abolished a law which allowed rapists to avoid punishment for their crime if they married the victim.

Article 522 of the Middle Eastern country’s penal code stated that men who had committed rape, statutory rape or kidnapping could have their prosecution or conviction suspended under this condition.

Unsurprisingly, this law has caused outrage among women’s rights activists, one of whom said it represented “a second assault on a rape survivor’s rights in the name of ‘honour’”. The country’s Minister for Women’s Affairs, Jean Oghassabian, has also publicly called Article 522 a provision that was like something “from the Stone Age”.

Legislators finally voted for repeal on Wednesday even though a proposal to get rid of this statute was submitted as far back as December with the support of Prime Minister Saad Hariri, the BBC reports.

The repeal was warmly welcomed by gender equality campaign organisation Abaad, who called the move a “triumph for the dignity of women”. The group thanked lawmakers for “strengthening the protection of women from all forms of violence” in Lebanon.

However, there is still work to be done. After the vote, Mr Oghassabian took to Twitter, writing that although he was pleased with getting rid of Article 522, he still had “reservations regarding keeping Articles 505 and 518”. These two statutes are focused on the seduction of, and sex with, underage people. There should be “no exceptions for escaping punishment for rape” the Minister tweeted.

Similar statutes to Article 522 still exist in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Kuwait, Bahrain and Algeria. Tunisia and Jordan also had laws to this effect on their books until very recently.

Photo of the Lebanon flag courtesy of Eusebius@Commons via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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