Lebanese lawmakers on Wednesday took the first step to overturn a law that allows rapists to avoid punishment if they marry their victims. The move came a day after protesters wearing fake-blood-stained wedding gowns confronted lawmakers just steps away from Parliament in the capital Beirut.
After a scheduled review of Article 522 of the penal code, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri tweeted that a parliamentary committee had agreed to push forward with a plan that would abolish the law.
Article 522 states that if a man rapes an unmarried woman he can avoid prosecution for the crime if he marries the victim.
Hariri praised the committee’s decision. “We await the completion of this civilized step in the nearest legislative session,” he told state-run news agency NNA.
Samy Gemayel, president of the Kataeb political party, also welcomed the move and said he hoped for fast approval at Parliament’s general assembly, according to NNA.
Activists on Tuesday rallied near Parliament to denounce the law. Participants, who dressed as beaten brides, said the action was a visual reminder that for many women who are the victims of rape, what comes next may be worse than the rape itself.
Beirut-based rights group ABAAD, which has long lobbied against Article 522 through a grassroots and online media campaign, organized the protest.
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