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Lebanon to abolish rape law that lets offenders walk free

There is unanimous consent in parliament’s Committee of Administration and Justice to remove controversial law
Protesters against Article 522 take part in 14th annual Beirut Marathon on 13 November (AFP)

Lebanese lawmakers agreed to repeal controversial Article 522 of the penal code, which allows rapists to avoid prosecution if they marry their victims.

The article will likely be officially abolished in the parliament’s next legislative session.

There was unanimous consent in the parliament’s Committee of Administration and Justice to remove the article as it appeared in the text of the law, MP Robert Ghanem said in a statement.

The decision comes as NGOs and activists have been pressuring politicians to strike down the provision, which they say enables rape.

“In the event a legal marriage is concluded between the person who committed [crimes including rape, kidnapping and statutory rape] and the victim, prosecution shall be stopped and in case a decision is rendered, the execution of such decision shall be suspended against the person who was subject to it,” Article 522 reads.

READ: Article 522 - Letting rapists off the hook in Lebanon

MP Nadim Gemayel told Lebanese newspaper Annahar that the committee rejects all forms of violence against women.

“Congratulations to women and girls across Lebanon… The Committee of Administration and Justice has agreed to repeal Article 522 of the Lebanese criminal code. Further details relating to other articles will be discussed next Wednesday,” ABAAD, a group that has been leading a push against the law, wrote on Facebook.

Lebanese and Arab social media users celebrated the decision.

Translation: #Article522 of the penal code to the garbage. We hope that all the manifestations of the uncivilised patriarchal society get abolished. Congratulation to Lebanese women and a salute to women's rights activists.

Translation: Congratulations to Lebanese women for this accomplishment... The demands started under the motto "White does not hide rape" #DontMakeUsWear522

Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri also welcomed the decision to abolish the article.

“We await completing this civilised move during the legislative session,” he wrote on Twitter.

"When the Lebanese public moves [Muslims and Christians], achievement happens. Let's remain united for Lebanon," one Facebook user commented on ABAAD's statement.