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Repealing ‘marry your rapist’ laws

Most of the countries in the Arab region have or have only recently removed, laws that pardon rapists and perpetrators from punishment if they marry their victims.

These laws:

  • Deny justice to survivors
  • Signal that rape is not a serious crime and can be talked or bargained away
  • Allow women to be traded as possessions between families
  • Take away the survivor’s control of her choices and future and risk her continued abuse
  • Perpetuate a mindset that places the stigma and shame around rape on the survivor rather than the perpetrator
  • Exploit the situation of those with few resources, especially in relation to those with greater societal power

These laws remain in place in the region in Iraq, Kuwait, Syria, Libya, and Algeria. The law in Lebanon, whilst they have repealed the ‘marry your rapist’ law, still contains further loopholes that allow rapists and sexual harassers to escape punishment.

Repealing ‘marry your rapist’ laws across the MENA region

  • In 2014 Morocco repealed article 475 of the Moroccan Penal Code after sustained advocacy outcry by Equality Now and local women’s groups. Equality Now issued an Action following the suicide of 16-year-old Amina Filali, who swallowed poison after forced to marry her rapist.
  • In 2016 and 2017 Equality Now supported local partners in Jordan calling for the repeal of Article 308 of the Penal Code through an Urgent Alert, submissions to treaty monitoring bodies and media outreach.
  • In 2017, Equality Now supported local partners in Lebanon calling for the repeal of Article 522 of the Penal Code in a campaign targeting parliamentarians and the President of Lebanon to revoke this article. We continue to work with local partners on closing loopholes in the law.
  • In 2017, Tunisia repealed article 227
  • In March 2018 Palestine repealed article 308 of the Penal Code

What is Equality Now doing in the region?

We continue to call on all governments to review and amend all laws, policies, and procedures relating to rape and sexual assault to better protect women and girls and provide access to justice.