Lebanon: Don’t let rapists go free! Repeal Article 522 of the Penal Code
16 AUGUST 2017 UPDATE: SUCCESS! Lebanon's parliament has voted for the full repeal of Article 522 of the Penal Code! Going forward rapists and other sexual abusers who marry their victims will no longer enjoy impunity for their crimes. This is yet another momentous victory in the Arab region following Jordan and Tunisia's reforms in the last month and should encourage other countries including Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait and Palestine that still have these discriminatory legal provisions. Congratulations to all the activists who worked tirelessly for years to make this happen!
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