On January 14, 2012, over a thousand men and women marched in the morning rain to demand an end to archaic rape laws in Lebanon. In another step towards achieving this, we have launched a targeted campaign to specifically delete Article 522 from the Lebanese Penal Code. Article 522 states:
This article is dangerous, inhumane, and unjust for the following reasons:
- It does not only apply to rape, but to all articles in the section (503 – 521) that include including rape of a minor, rape of a person with a mental or physical disability, sex with a minor, molestation of children, sexual harassment of children, exploitation of someone in a weaker position and forcing someone into sexual acts, kidnapping of women or girls (with or without intention of marriage). In all of these cases, Article 522 exonerates the criminal of his crime if he marries the victim. And yes, in all Lebanese confessional laws, women can get married under 18 (ages vary by sect).
- While it is clearly outrageous to us that a survivor of rape or sexual violence would want to marry her rapist, many families still view this as an “honorable” escape of the shame of rape and could force their daughter to accept it.
- The mere fact of having such an article in our Panel Code offers the rapist / child molester / kidnapper an escape clause which enforces the general mentality that sex criminals can get away with their crimes. And it encourages convicted rapists of seeking marriage with their victims.
- Because of this article, criminals who can prove intentions to marry their victims can gain the sympathy of the judges and receive a reduced sentence for their crimes even if they don’t end up with a marriage.