Lebanon activists ramp up pressure on reviled rape law

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A woman walks past a veiled woman sitting on a bench near an installation of wedding dresses by Lebanese artist Mireille Honein and Abaad NGO at Beirut’s Corniche, denouncing the article 522 of Lebanon’s penal code allowing rapists who marry their victims to go free. (AFP/PATRICK BAZ/MIREILLE HONEIN)
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A proposal to scrap the article was introduced last year and approved by a parliamentary committee in February, but it must now be voted on by the full legislative body.(AFP/PATRICK BAZ/MIREILLE HONEIN)
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A proposal to scrap the article was introduced last year and approved by a parliamentary committee in February, but it must now be voted on by the full legislative body.(AFP/PATRICK BAZ/MIREILLE HONEIN)
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A proposal to scrap the article was introduced last year and approved by a parliamentary committee in February, but it must now be voted on by the full legislative body.(AFP/PATRICK BAZ/MIREILLE HONEIN)
Updated 23 April 2017
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Lebanon activists ramp up pressure on reviled rape law

BEIRUT: Lebanese activists ramped up their campaign to scrap a controversial law allowing rapists who marry their victims to go free, with a dramatic installation on Saturday along Beirut’s sunny seaside.
A proposal to scrap Article 522 of the penal code — which deals with rape, assault, kidnapping and forced marriage — was introduced last year and approved by a parliamentary committee in February.
It will go before parliament on May 15 and activists hope that MPs will vote to eliminate it.
On Saturday they urged Lebanese citizens to sign a campaign to ramp up the pressure on legislators at an open-air exhibit.
Thirty-one wedding dresses made of white lace and wrapping paper hung limply from makeshift nooses between four palm trees along the Lebanese capital’s corniche.
“There are 31 days in a month and every single day, a woman may be raped and forced to marry her rapist,” said Alia Awada, advocacy manager at Lebanese non-government organization ABAAD.
“We are trying as much as we can to shed light on this issue and tell parliament that the time has come for them to vote on canceling Article 522.”
The reviled article, which also deals with the rape of minors, allows offenders to escape punishment by wedding their victims.
“If a valid marriage contract exists between the perpetrator of one of these crimes... and the abused, the prosecution is suspended,” it reads.
“If a verdict has been issued, the implementation is suspended.”
Awada said: “We called on all parliamentarians and decision-makers in the Lebanese state with this message: every ‘yes’ from you is a ‘no’ to a rapist.”
Standing amid the fluttering wedding dresses, Minister for Women’s Affairs Jean Oghassabian described the article as being “from the stone age.”
“Its turn has come, it’s the second item on the agenda” at an upcoming legislative session on May 15, Oghassabian, who is also an MP, told AFP.
Lebanese artist Mireille Honein, who designed the exhibition in Paris and brought it to her homeland this week, said she made the dresses out of white paper “to highlight the ephemeral nature of marriage and of laws.”
“And I hung them up, because this type of law simply robs women of their essence, leaves them without an identity and suspends them in a life that does not suit them and is shameful for those imposing it on them,” Honein told AFP.
As passersby paused to look at the ghostly installation, volunteers from ABAAD invited them to sign a petition demanding parliament prioritize the article’s elimination.
Silver-haired Rafiq Ajouri, who hails from a southern Lebanese village, was persuaded to sign on while on his morning stroll along the corniche.
“If I were to get raped, why wouldn’t I get my rights? I’d want people to stand beside me,” he said.
But the elderly man, who has five sons and three daughters, hesitated when an ABAAD volunteer said women should be allowed the same liberties as men.
“They can have their freedoms, but within limits. Why? Because they’re girls.”


Bahrain says conference co-hosted with US aimed at helping Palestinians

Updated 21 May 2019
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Bahrain says conference co-hosted with US aimed at helping Palestinians

DUBAI: Bahrain said Tuesday a peace conference it is co-hosting next month with the US is aimed at helping the Palestinians, who have criticized the kingdom for failing to consult them about the event.
The conference “serves no other purpose” than to help the Palestinian people “through developing their abilities and enhancing their resources,” said Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa.
The kingdom “remains supportive of the brotherly Palestinian people in restoring their legitimate rights on their land as well as establishing an independent state with east Jerusalem as its capital,” Bahrain’s top diplomat said in a statement.
The White House announced Sunday it would co-host the June 25-26 conference with Bahrain focusing on economic aspects of the long-delayed US peace plan, with the declared aim of achieving Palestinian prosperity.
“We were not consulted by any party on the announced meeting to take place in Manama, Bahrain,” Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said in a statement.
“We have not mandated any party to negotiate on our behalf.”
The Palestinians have boycotted the US administration since President Donald Trump broke with decades of consensus and recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017.
They consider the eastern part of the city the capital of their future state and have shown little interest in the US peace plan, which they fear will be heavily biased in favor of Israel.
Dubbed “Peace for Prosperity,” the conference is expected to bring together leaders from several governments, civil society and the business sector.
Trump’s office said the conference was a “pivotal opportunity... to share ideas, discuss strategies, and galvanize support for potential economic investments and initiatives that could be made possible by a peace agreement.”
The Palestinians see this as offering financial rewards in exchange for accepting ongoing Israeli occupation.
“Attempts at promoting an economic normalization of the Israeli occupation of Palestine will be rejected,” Erekat said.