[JURIST] Lebanese lawmakers took steps on Wednesday to overturn a law [press release] that allows rapists to avoid prosecution if they marry their victims. Article 522 of the penal code was ratified in the 1940s and maintains that those found guilty of rape could be sentenced for at least seven years but that charges could be lifted if the rapist marries the victim. Activists have lobbied for the law's revocation for years and claim that the law empowers rapists and further victimizes those who have been assaulted. The Lebanon parliament will have to vote on the motion to abolish the law.
The rights of women and girls continues to be an international rights issue. Last month Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said that the government would withdraw a controversial bill that may have allowed men to marry girls under 18 [JURIST report] without being guilty of sexual assault. In September Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] accused [JURIST report] Nepal of not doing all it could to prevent child marriages, finding that over 37 percent of girls are still being married before age 18. In April the UN Special Rapporteur for human rights in Cambodia, Rhona Smith, appealed [JURIST report] to the country to strengthen the protection of its women and the rights of its indigenous peoples. In June the UN Working Group on Discrimination against Women in Law called [JURIST report] on the world's governments to take quick, effective steps towards ensuring women are granted equal rights to health, including reproductive and sexual health. In July Gambia and Tanzania's governments announced [JURIST report] the end of the practice of child marriage along with prison sentences for those who continue the tradition.