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Girls & Women

Lebanon Close to Repealing Rape Law After Bloody Brides Protest

(AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

The Lebanese brides may have scored a major victory.

Following a highly publicized protest this month in which women dressed in bloodied bridal gowns demonstrated in front of government offices, Lebanese lawmakers said they were close to repealing a law that allowed rapists to get away with their crimes.

The law, which has been in place since the late 1940s, states that convicted rapists 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.

Parliament member Elie Kayrouz told Reuters Monday that his committee, which was tasked with re-examining the law, will recommend that the parliament repeal it from the country’s statutes during the next legislative session.

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"For article 522 there is consensus among all members of the committee to abolish this article," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a telephone interview.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his support of the repeal on Twitter earlier this month.

"We will be waiting for the completion of this civilized step at the beginning of the next parliamentary session," Hariri said in his Twitter message.

Human Rights Watch told Reuters Monday that the law will likely be repealed by parliament.

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The repeal would be a major victory for women’s rights groups in the country, including ABAAD, which organized the bridal-themed protest. About a dozen protesters wore the blood-and-gauzed gowns outside government buildings in Beirut on Dec. 6 while legislators were gathering inside to discuss the law, according to the Associated Press.

The women carried a banner that read, “White won’t cover rape.”

"Looking at the momentum and feedback from different parliamentarians ... it is now going to look very bad if the parliament does not agree with the abolition of the article," Saja Michael, a spokeswoman for Beirut-based women's rights group ABAAD, told Reuters.

Global Citizen and CHIME FOR CHANGE are campaigning to end violence against women and the laws that allow it to go unpunished. Sign the #LeveltheLaw petition to add your voice to the global call to protect women.

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