Lebanon has today (August 17) made a historic amendment to its penal code by abolishing Article 522 – also known as Lebanon’s “rape law” – which allowed rapists to avoid prosecution if they married their victims.
The decision by Lebanon’s parliament came after a strong campaign led by local advocacy organisation ABAAD, and other supporting NGOs – including child rights organisation Plan International.
Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen – CEO of Plan International – welcomed today’s announcement, saying:
“Rape is an act of horrific violence for which there is no excuse. Rape is a crime. We welcome the Lebanese Parliament’s decision to abolish the statute that allowed rapists to walk free if they married their victims. Credit for this should go to Lebanese NGOs, particularly ABAAD.”
While welcoming this step forward in the fight for girls’ and women’s rights, Albrectsen cautioned that for those trapped within a forced marriage of this kind already – including some children – the nightmare is far from over.
“Rape causes severe physical, emotional and psychological harm, which can last a lifetime. Forcing a girl to get married to anyone before the age of 18 – let alone to the man who raped her – not only robs her of her childhood, but also violates her rights to health, education and opportunity. Despite this knowledge, when rape occurs within a marriage – including to children – it is often ignored by the authorities. For this reason not only laws, but also patriarchal norms and traditions need to be overturned to achieve true gender equality.”
Plan International is urging countries where similar laws still exist to follow Lebanon’s example.
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