December 7, 2016

LEBANON: Women In Lebanon Protest Law Allowing Rapists To Marry Their Victims To Escape Punishment. Islamic Sharia Law Forced Upon Society. Morocco, Turkey Tried To Pass Same Law.

The Independent, UK
written by Bethan McKernan, Beirut
Wednesday December 7, 2016

Women in Lebanon are protesting for the removal of a law that allows rapists to escape punishment for their crimes as long as they marry the survivor.

The outdated statute from the 1940s currently says that rape is punishable by up to seven years in prison. The penalty for raping a minor or someone with mental or physical disabilities is higher - but Article 522 of the law creates a loophole which says that criminal prosecution is suspended if the two people involved get married.

The law is up for debate on Wednesday after it was raised by a member of parliament. Lebanon’s diverse Christian and Muslim political representatives are currently energised by the election of a president after a more than two-year-long paralysis which meant legislation could not be passed - and activists are optimistic something can be done.

On Tuesday, around a dozen women wearing white dresses and bandages stained with fake blood staged a demonstration outside the government building in downtown Beirut to signify their support for changing the archaic law.

“We reject this violation of women regardless of their age, background, environment, whether they have special needs or the circumstances of the rape,” said Ghida Anani, head of Abaad, a local NGO campaigning against it on rights grounds.

Inside parliament, supporters of the article said that marriage was a way to save the honour of a raped woman, suggesting that if the law is rewritten, wedding an attacker could be left as an option for families to choose if they wished.

Ms Anani was dismissive of the proposal. “This is like saying the victim is a victim twice, a daily victim because she has to share her life with a person that violated her, and is hence raped every day,” she said.

Similar marriage clauses are present in the law regarding sexual consent in many modern Muslim states. They are usually hangovers from interpretations of Sharia, or religious law.

In recent years such loopholes have come under under intensified scrutiny, with protests aimed at getting the law changed in several countries across the Middle East - although the Turkish authorities’ attempt this year to write a marriage article into existing rape legislation caused outrage both within the country and internationally.

Several attempts to repeal or amend Lebanon’s immunity-through-marriage law have been made in the past, most recently after large protests in 2012.

Deutsche Welle, Germany
written by Monika Griebeler
Friday January 24, 2014

Morocco does away with a controversial law allowing the rapist of an underage girl to escape prosecution if he marries the victim. Now activists say it's time to enact change in society to protect rape victims.

Houda Lamqaddam fought for this decision for almost two years, but when it finally came, the Moroccan activist no longer felt like celebrating. Morocco's parliament, this week, voted to scrap a highly controversial law that allowed the rapist of an underage girl to avoid punishment if he married his victim.

Many girls have suffered that fate, but the 2012 case of Amina al-Filali shocked the country. Just months after being forced to marry her rapist, the 16-year-old committed suicide. To protect the family's honor, her family and a judge had put pressure on the girl to agree to the marriage, which was legal under article 475 of the penal code.

Lamqaddam and her fellow activists accordingly named their campaign against this particular law and against sexual violence against women 475LeFilm.

The fight is not over

The young woman, who received Deutsche Welle's 2013 Best Social Activism Award at The Bobs for her work, welcomed the scrapping of article 475, but added parliament's move doesn't change much in reality.

"For female rape victims, it's still very difficult to find justice," the activist told DW. "The judicial system is heavily biased in favor of men, the attackers, and there is very little support for women who are victims of rape and sexual violence."

Basically, there is no one to turn to, since families will blame the victim - there is a lot of victim blaming going on, she added.

Although the equality of men and women was anchored in Morocco's constitution in 2011, it hasn't arrived in people's daily lives. Women are supposed to be pure and virgins until marriage or they are cast out. It is engrained in the more traditional sectors of Moroccan society as well as other countries, including several in the Arab world: rape is a stigma; no other man will marry a rape victim. For Lamqaddam, this means the struggle is not yet over.

Discrimination against female rape survivors particularly means that victims often choose not to report and not to seek out support services - if they even exist - because they are afraid of being abandoned by their families, according to Liesl Gerntholtz, executive director of the women's rights division at Human Rights Watch.

"That's the global challenge - not a challenge that Morocco is facing: The way that communities and states respond to rape, and in particular the prevention of violence against women," Gerntholtz said.

Society needs to change

It is difficult to imagine the profound psychological consequences and harm caused by rape, Gerntholtz said, adding that she welcomes improvements and legal changes like the Moroccan amendment as a first step. It acknowledges that rape is a crime and that perpetrators should not be allowed to escape accountability in any way, she said.

It also acknowledges "the harm caused when the victim if confronted with the act again after it occurs."

Now, she argued, the law must be adequately implemented.

Lamqaddam agreed, "The law must be translated into action - by the police, by the families, by everyone."

The police must learn to implement the law, the families must learn to value and protect girls, communities must grant victims of rape and sexual violence medical aid, psychological support and refuge. Morocco needs a law that actually protects women from sexual violence, Lamqaddam said.

Breitbart News
written by Donna Rachel Edmunds
Tuesday November 22, 2016

Turkey’s ruling party has dropped a controversial proposed law which would see child rapists pardoned if they married their victims while it undertakes a consultation on the proposal.
Prime Minister Binali Yฤฑldฤฑrฤฑm confirmed to reporters that the AKP would be shelving the bill following widespread opposition to the measure, which critics said would allow men accused of sexually abusing children to avoid punishment.

Yildirim said the draft will be withdrawn from the parliament’s general assembly and sent back to a commission for review. A consultation will also be launched in line with a call from President Recep Tayyip ErdoฤŸan for a wider consensus.

“This issue will be reviewed in commission, and if there is a proposal we will review and amend it,” Yildirim said at a news conference in Ankara. “If not, we will solve the issue by taking into consideration the recommendations from the people and NGOs.”

Yildirim previously denied that the measure amounted to an “amnesty for rape”, arguing that it would only be used in instances where men had been jailed having married girls under 18 years old in religious ceremonies with the permission of their families.

The proposal would have allowed sentencing in cases of sexual abuse committed “without force, threat or trick” before 16 November 2016 to be indefinitely postponed if the perpetrator married the victim, and would have seen some 3,000 convicts pardoned.

On Saturday, UNICEF, the UN’s children’s fund, expressed concern over the measure, saying violence against children must be punished.

Spokesman Christophe Boulierac said: “UNICEF is deeply concerned by the draft bill on sexual offenders recently submitted to the parliament which introduces some type of amnesty for child abuse perpetrators.

“These abject forms of violence against children are crimes which should be punished as such, and in all cases the best interest of the child should prevail,” he said.

On the same day around 3,000 protestors, mostly women, gathered in Istanbul’s Kadikoy square to oppose the law, clapping and chanting: “We will not shut up. We will not obey. Withdraw the bill immediately!”

Some waved banners with slogans such as “Rape cannot be legitimised” and “AKP, take your hands off my body.”

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