Article 522 is not fully abolished
On Wednesday August 16th 2017, Lebanon voted on the “repeal” of Article 522 which exempted the offender of the crimes established under Articles 503 to 521 related to sexual assaults, from punishment if a marriage contract is concluded with the victim. Last February, the Administration and Justice Commission at the Parliament concluded that this Article shall be abolished while maintaining the effects thereof in Article 505 on sexual intercourse with minors, and Article 518 on “taking away a woman’s virginity by promising her marriage”, be she an adult or a minor. The Lebanese Parliament voted on the proposal as it was amended and referred to it by the aforementioned Commission. Deputies were aware of the dangerous amendments to articles 505 and 518 which we repeatedly raised asking them to deal with them so that the abolition is complete and is worthy to be named a real achievement and not another bargain on the rights of women and girls.
For more clarification on how Article 522 was not fully abolished, we will explain how it was reintroduced to the two articles, Article 505 and Article 518.
Article 505 refers to mating with a minor as a crime punishable by the law, and mentions this crime under the “rape crimes” sub-chapter. However, the amendment of the Article as approved by the members of the Administration and Justice Commission and adopted by Parliament, places the offender again in front of two choices: Imprisonment or marrying the victim if she is aged between 15 and 18; with a social worker intervening in the cases where marriage is contracted to ensure that the minor is all right. We hereby ask the following question: If mating with a minor is considered to be a rape crime under the Law, how can the offender be given the choice of marrying the victim against obtaining impunity? And what is the point of having a social worker follow up on the marital relation if we assume that no harm is done and that a “proper marriage” was contracted between both parties? More importantly, this amendment reaffirms the legalization of child marriage, which is still dealt with as a “solution” for sexual aggression.
Article 518, on the other hand, is related to “deflowering” a girl by promising her marriage. In the suggested amendment, the legislators have introduced the impact of Article 522 to this Article as well, where they maintain again the possibility of marriage as an exemption from punishment without determining the age of the victim. Based on the above, we reiterate our rejection of any compromise involving the rights of women and girls and any consecration of a minor’s marriage under the Lebanese Penal Law. What happened today is an incomplete step that reflects a continued neglect of a woman’s dignity and reaffirms the acceptance of giving girls out to marriage and to forced marriages. We shall continue to strive for the abolishment of the full effects of Article 522.