Rights groups confident Lebanon to repeal rape bill

Protest in Beirut earlier this month

BEIRUT - Rights campaigners in Lebanon are confident that the government will repeal article 522 of the penal code, which allows rapists to avoid punishment by marrying their victims.
The law has caused a backlash from women’s rights campaigners, including a rally in Beirut earlier this month where dozens of women donned bloodstained gowns in protest.
Elie Kayrouz, a Lebanese MP and member of the committee in charge of analyzing the bill said they had agreed to advise the government for its repeal.
“For article 522 there is consensus among all members of the committee to abolish this article,” he told Thomson Reuters Foundation by telephone.
Parliament will vote on the law based upon the committee’s recommendations, which have yet to be issued in a formal statement.
Saja Michael, spokeswoman for women’s rights group ABAAD who were in charge of the Beirut protests, said that authorities could reverse the sentence of a convicted rapist under article 522 if he or she marries the victim.
“Looking at the momentum and feedback from different parliamentarians…it is now going to look very bad is the parliament does not agree with the abolition of the article,” Michael said in a phone interview.
Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who formed a new government with President Michel Aoun on Sunday, voiced his support for the repeal via Twitter.
“We will be waiting for the completion of this civilized step at the beginning of the next parliamentary session,” Hariri posted earlier this month.