Lebanese Women Dressed in Bloody Bridal Gowns Protest Rape Law
The law allows rapists to avoid prosecution if they marry their victims.
Update, 12/9/2016: Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri tweeted following parliament's review of the country's controversial rape law and said the committe was moving forward with a plan to repeal it during the next legislative session.
A decades-old law in Lebanon that allows rapists to escape prosecution if they marry their victims could be repealed, a possibility that drew a dozen Lebanese women dressed in bridal gowns covered in fake blood to a protest in Beirut Tuesday.
The law, which has been in place since the late 1940s, states that perpetrators can face up to seven years in prison – more if their victim is handicapped – but that prosecution can be suspended if the rapists wed their victims.
The bridal protesters stood outside government buildings in in Beirut, where legislators were gathering today to discuss the law, according to the Associated Press.
The women, who were hoping to convince the lawmakers to repeal the bill, carried a banner that read, “White won’t cover rape.”
Some of the law’s supporters merely want the law amended to allow marriage as a choice for the victim and her family in order to salvage their honor, according to the report.
"If they don't put themselves in our shoes and feel what we feel, nothing will change," Hayam Baker, one of the protesters, told the AP.
Baker said she had once been the victim of sexual harassment by a male nurse while she was in the hospital, and now was horrified at the thought of having been raped and forced to marry her assailant.
"Imagine if he had raped me?" Baker said. "If my children ask how did I meet their father, what do I say? 'I married the person who raped me!’”
According to Reuters, lawmakers have already attempted to amend the law once before following protests in 2012.
Lebanon is not the only country to wrestle with outdated rape laws. In recent weeks Turkey’s lawmakers introduced and debated a bill that would allow perpetrators of sexual assault against minors under the age of 18 to avoid punishment if they married their victims. Following national and global outrage, the bill was withdrawn.
In October of this year, Pakistan voted to strengthen its law against "honor killings," following the murder of social media star Qandeel Baloch by her brother to allegedly "restore honor" to the family. In the past, convicted killers could avoid punishment if they received official forgiveness from a victim's family. The new law carries a 25 year mandatory sentence.
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