After years of continuous activism, rapists in Lebanon will no longer escape punishment by marrying their victims.
On Tuesday, Lebanon's Parliament repealed Article 522 of the Lebanese penal code, which dismisses rape charges if a rapist marries his victim.
"If a legal marriage was held between the person who committed any of the crimes mentioned in this chapter and the victim, prosecution will be stopped; and if a verdict in the case was issued, the punishment implementation is suspended," Article 522 stated.
Said article does not only cover cases of rape. It applies to cases of sex with a minor, molestation of children, sexual harassment of children, exploitation of someone in a less powerful position and the kidnapping of women or girls.
The fight to abolish the law has been ongoing for years and has been championed by ABAAD, a MENA based non-profit organization. In 2016, the organization launched a massive and haunting awareness campaign in an effort to bring the controversial rape law to an end.
Soon after, Parliament promised to scrap the article. This, however, was not followed up with action.
A draft law to abolish Article 522 was sent to Parliament in February for ratification.
Now, the article has officially been repealed, though long overdue.
ABAAD never gave up. "Here we are nearly one year later as Article 522 finally gets repealed."
Kudos to ABAAD!
"Congratulations to all Lebanese women and all Lebanese, Article 522 has officially been repealed. Kudos to all activists for their efforts to make it happen, and a special thanks to the ABAAD team."
"It's 2017" ... but the fight continues.
"YES to punishing a rapist"
"Yes to punishing a rapist. Members of Parliament just repealed Article 522 of the Lebanese Penal Code, which exempts a rapist from punishment if he marries the victim."
"A victory for feminists"
In 2016, campaigners at ABAAD made an appearance at the House of Parliament in an effort to encourage lawmakers to abolish the law.
Lebanese MP Ghassan Moukheiber said at the time that Parliament has been working to put forward an amendment to the article.
But, ABAAD rejected any modification to Article 522, demanding the law be abolished altogether.
But, some say article 522 has only been "partially abolished"
KAFA, a women's rights organization in Beirut described the latest developments as a "partial victory".
"[The article's] effect continues under article 505, which involves sex with a minor who is 15 years of age, as it does through article 518, which concerns the seduction of a minor with the promise of marriage," the women's rights organization said in a Facebook post.
"We will not stop until the effects of article 522 are completely abolished."
Not a first in the Arab world
On August 1, Jordan's lower house of parliament voted to revoke the controversial Article 308 of the kingdom's penal code, which allowed rapists to escape punishment by marrying their victims.
The long-awaited decision still requires approval by the upper house, which is commonly regarded as a mere formality.
In July, Tunisia followed in the footsteps of Jordan with an amendment to several laws governing women's rights in the country.
The new laws criminalize sexual harassment in public spaces, bans the employment of children as domestic workers, and scraps the controversial article that allowed rapists to marry their victims to escape punishment.