Lebanon rape law: Parliament abolishes marriage loophole

Lebanon’s parliament has scrapped a law under which a rapist could be exempt from punishment if he married his victim, state media report.

Women’s rights activists had long demanded that Article 522 of the penal code be repealed.

Their campaign was supported by the Minister for Women’s Affairs, Jean Oghassabian, who said the law was like something “from the Stone Age”.

Similar legislation has recently been swept away in both Tunisia and Jordan.

States retaining a comparable loophole include Algeria, Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya and Syria.

Members of the Lebanese parliamentary committee for administration and justice agreed last December to submit a proposal to repeal Article 522.

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

Article 522 allowed for halting the prosecution or suspending the conviction of a person who had committed rape, kidnapping, or statutory rape if he married the victim.

One activist said 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”.

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