Amal was just 12 when she was raped by a 24-year-old man in Lebanon. Our partners at the Lebanese Council to Resist all Forms of Violence against Woman (LECORVAW) came to her aid, making sure that her rapist was arrested.
Sadly, however, Amal did not get justice. 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, and so they pressured Amal’s family to force a marriage, including with offers of money.
Though Amal’s parents didn’t accept the offer or 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.” Sadly, this is 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.
Equality Now, LECORVAW and others greatly welcome this move, and we are advocating for the Lebanese Parliament to support and approve the Committee’s decision to revoke this discriminatory article once and for all. Some Arab countries, including Egypt in 1999 and Morocco in 2014, have already revoked rape exemption loopholes and others, including Bahrain, Jordan and Iraq, are discussing revoking such articles.
The vote could happen at any time so we are emailing our supporters, asking them to take action to stop rapists from going free contacting the Speaker of the House, Mr. Nabih Berri to ask him to encourage the parliament to repeal Article 522 of the Lebanese Penal Code! #JusticeforGirls
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).
In November 2015, following our advocacy with partners, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW Committee) specifically recommended to Lebanon to ensure “that all allegations of assault and rape are duly investigated, prosecuted and sanctioned and that victims have access to appropriate redress, including compensation.”