Controversial rape law in Lebanon to be scrapped
Written by Malek
BEIRUT (AFP): A Lebanese parliamentary committee has forced a vote on
scrapping a controversial law that allows rapists to escape punishment
by marrying their victims, an NGO said Thursday. Parliament would
need to ratify the decision to change the law, but NGO Abaad said the
committee’s decision on Wednesday was a key first step. “We hope that
Parliament will move quickly to cancel this article and make the other
amendments” proposed by the committee, said Alia Awada, advocacy manager
for Abaad’s campaign to drop Article 522 of the penal code. The controversial article deals with rape — including against minors — assault, kidnapping and forced marriage. “If
a valid marriage contract exists between the perpetrator of one of
these crimes... and the abused, the prosecution is suspended,” the
article reads. “If a verdict has been issued, the implementation is
suspended.” A proposal to scrap the article was introduced last year
but the committee only approved it Wednesday, along with changes to
other sections of the penal code. The panel proposed raising the penalty for assaults against girls aged under 15 to a maximum of seven years.
Awada said she was hopeful that parliament would vote the changes into law.
committee took its time during discussions to reach consensus among all
the members from the main political parties to avoid any obstacles to
the vote in the parliament later,” she told AFP.
There are no precise
figures on how many rapists marry their victims to avoid punishment,
but Awada said the practice mainly took place in rural areas.
“Many girls come under pressure to marry their rapists under the guise of ‘protecting honor’ or ‘avoiding scandal’,” she said.
December, the New York-based Human Rights Watch urged Lebanon to repeal
Article 522, saying it “allows for a second assault on a rape
“Protecting honor should be about ensuring that
attackers are punished and promoting social attitudes that support
survivors of sexual violence instead of stigmatizing them,” the rights
Lebanon largely leaves so-called personal status
issues to the discretion of religious authorities of the country’s 18