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Sub-committee abolish legal clause condoning the marriage of rapist to his victim


The head of the Parliamentary Administration and Justice Committee, MP Robert Ghanem, buoyantly declared an initial agreement on the abolition of Article 522 of the Penal Code which provides for the end of all prosecution against a rapist should he decide to marry his victim. The announcement came after the sixth meeting of the committee assigned to study the adjustment of the first chapter of Section 7 of the Penal Code related to violation of 'women's honor'. However, Al Akhbar newspaper citing Ghanem denied the news of a final eradication of the article, stating that until yesterday the committee has introduced amendments to Articles 503 through 510, and has yet to finalize the remaining ones up till Article 522 before submitting a detailed report to the Parliament’s General Assembly. Ghanem told the newspaper that he expected the amendments to pass, because, he said, “the matter has been thoroughly and objectively tackled since last September with no pressure from any party.” On details of the debate, Al Akhbar mentioned a provision endorsed yesterday which gives the competent judge the right to decide the punishment in certain articles, drawing attention to the risks involved, as explained by MP Elie Kayrouz. The latter, mastermind behind the amendment of Article 522, has revealed to the newspaper that the committee will eventually identify the felonies that should not apply to the subject article and the crimes that can benefit from it. This means, Al Akhbar analyzed, that Article 522 has been cancelled as a separate article, but shall be integrated in other pertinent articles. This is what Kafa Enough Violence and Exploitation organization feared from the beginning, that the declared compromise did not in fact cover all the crimes and retained the exemption part through a proposal to amend selective articles. In this respect, Al Akhbar quoted MP Nawar Saheli as saying that “the suggested article to take in Article 522 is specifically the Second Paragraph of Article 505 which states that he who has sexual penetration with a minor who completed 15 years of age but is not yet 18 is punished with 2 months up to 2 years in prison.” Saheli pointed out that the debate within the committee focused on religious texts that sanction the marriage of an underage girl who is close to completing her 18th year. In its first reaction to the news, ABAAD congratulated all girls and women across Lebanon and so did Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri and MP Sami Gemayel. (L’Orient Le Jour, An Nahar, Al Diyar, Al Akhbar, As Safir, Al Mustaqbal, The Daily Star, December 8, 2016)
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