Lebanon rape law: Parliament abolishes marriage loophole

Protesters demanding the abolishment of article 522 of Lebanon's penal code take part in the 14th annual Beirut Marathon on 13 November 2016

Lebanon’s parliament has scrapped a law under which a rapist could be exempt from punishment if he married his victim, state media report.

Women’s rights activists had long demanded that Article 522 of the penal code be repealed.

Their campaign was supported by the Minister for Women’s Affairs, Jean Oghassabian, who said the law was like something “from the Stone Age”.

Similar legislation has recently been swept away in both Tunisia and Jordan.

States retaining a comparable loophole include Algeria, Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya and Syria.

Members of the Lebanese parliamentary committee for administration and justice agreed last December to submit a proposal to repeal Article 522.

Prime Minister Saad Hariri expressed his support for the measure at the time, but it took until Wednesday for a vote to be held.

Article 522 allowed for halting the prosecution or suspending the conviction of a person who had committed rape, kidnapping, or statutory rape if he married the victim.

One activist said the law allowed “for a second assault on a rape survivor’s rights in the name of ‘honour’ by trapping her in a marriage with her rapist”.

The women’s rights group Abaad called the repeal of Article 522 a “triumph for the dignity of women” and thanked MPs for “strengthening the protection of women from all forms of violence”.

But Kafa, another local rights group, said it was only a “partial victory”.

A Facebook post warned that the effect of Article 522 “continues under Article 505, which involves sex with a minor who is 15 years of age, as it does through Article 518, which concerns the seduction of a minor with the promise of marriage”.

Mr Oghassabian expressed similar concerns, writing on Twitter: “While we welcome the repeal of Article 552 of the penal code, we have reservations regarding keeping Articles 505 and 518. There are no exceptions for escaping punishment for rape.”

The repeal came after years of campaigning by women’s rights groups, including viral videos, a billboard showing a woman in a bloodied and torn gown with the caption “A white dress doesn’t cover up rape”, and an online petition.

In April, an art installation organised by Abaad saw 30 wedding dress strung up from nooses between the palm trees on Beirut’s famous seafront.

Activists also want Lebanon’s parliament to address the issue of marital rape.

Article 503 of the penal code defines the crime of rape as “forced sexual intercourse [against someone] who is not his wife by violence or threat”. The 2014 law on domestic violence meanwhile makes threats or violence by a spouse to claim a “marital right to intercourse” a crime, but does not criminalize the non-consensual violation of physical integrity itself, according to Human Rights Watch.


Edited for mb3-org.com

Pussy Riot Members Reportedly Detained After Protest In Siberia

They were protesting a Ukrainian filmmaker’s 20-year prison sentence.

By Katherine Brooks

Two members of the Russian punk activist group Pussy Riot were detained in Russia on Monday after participating in a protest outside of a Siberian prison, The Associated Press reports.

Maria Alyokhina, one of three Pussy Riot members famously arrested after performing in a Moscow cathedral in 2012, tweeted that she and Olga Borisova were taken into custody by police after protesting the imprisonment of Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov in Yakutsk, a remote city in Siberia located approximately 3,000 miles east of Moscow.

Sentsov, best known for his 2011 film “Gamer,” was originally arrested in Crimea, the Ukrainian region seized by Russia in 2014, and later charged with participating in a terrorist conspiracy. He was sentenced to 20 years in jail by a Russian court.

Sentsov’s family has described his experience with the Russian legal system as a “Stalin-era show trial,” while his lawyers have classified the charges against him as “absurd and fictitious.” According to The Guardian, at least 10 Ukrainian individuals were serving extended sentences in Russia as of 2016.

“For three years I’ve been sitting in a Russian prison. For those three years a war has been conducted against my country,” Sentsov wrote in a letter that was allegedly smuggled out of the Yakutsk penal colony. “The enemy is fighting like a coward, vilely, pretending he’s got nothing to do with this. Nobody believes it. But that doesn’t stop him.”

Alyokhina and fellow Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were convicted of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” after performing an anti-Putin “punk prayer” in Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral in February of 2012. The two were freed before the end of their two-year prison sentences in 2013, ahead of the Olympics in Sochi.

Since leaving prison, Pussy Riot has advocated on behalf of various individuals they deem political prisoners. Tolokonnikova also recently announced an immersive theater project titled “Inside Pussy Riot,” which will open in London this fall.

Edited for mb3-org.com