Lebanon: Don’t let rapists go free! Repeal Article 522 of the Penal Code
15 FEBRUARY 2017 UPDATE: In a promising sign, the parliamentary Administration and Justice Committee broadened its efforts to provide justice to victims by considering more appropriate punishments for rape and other sexual violence crimes. This includes potential amendments to Articles 503 – 521 of the Penal code for perpetrators of kidnapping, deception of minors, sexual harassment, incest and rape. However, in troubling news, we learned that the Committee also suggested amending Article 505, which deals with the rape of minors, to allow the legal exemption for rapists who marry their victims to remain for girls between the ages of 15 to 18. In essence, Article 522 would remain in force thereby negating the progress being made.
Amal* was just 12 years old when she was raped by a 24-year-old man in Lebanon. Our partners at the Lebanese Council to Resist Violence against Woman (LECORVAW) came to her aid, making sure that her rapist was arrested. Sadly, however, Amal did not get justice. Because the rapist and his family knew that by law – specifically Article 522 of the Lebanese Penal Code which was enacted to preserve “the honor and dignity of the victim’s family” – he could escape prosecution by marrying his victim, they pressured Amal’s family to force a marriage, including with offers of money. Though Amal’s parents didn’t accept the offer or accept the bribe, the criminal court freed the rapist on bail. And, because of the heavy stigma placed on rape survivors, Amal’s parents did not push further for a prosecution. Rather, believing that marriage is her only option, they engaged Amal to a relative. Now Amal is not only a rape survivor, but is also under threat of “child marriage” – a common situation for girls who are raped in Lebanon and in other parts of the world where such laws still exist.
There is hope, however, for Amal and the thousands of girls who are victims of these types of legal “rape exemptions.” On 7 December 2016, the Lebanese Parliamentary Administration and Justice Committee approved the repeal of Article 522 from the Penal Code. If Parliament votes yes, then perpetrators of rape, kidnapping or statutory rape would not be able to escape prosecution or other penalties by marrying their victims.
The vote could happen at any time. Please TAKE ACTION to stop rapists from going free!
Repealing Article 522 would help end the re-victimization of rape and sexual assault survivors and put Lebanon in compliance with its obligations under international law, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
Rape is a global epidemic and laws are failing women and girls. Please join Equality Now and LECORVAW to help protect survivors of sexual violence and give them justice! Call on the Speaker of the House, Mr. Nabih Berri, and ask him to encourage Parliament to repeal Article 522. #JusticeforGirls!
*not her real name