Journalism of Courage

Rapists go free if they marry their victims in at least 9 countries



If the law is a reflection of normative attitudes toward women, gender and family, then Turkey’s most recent “marry your rapist” bill accurately captures the situation women face globally.  The bill first debated in January 2020 provide an amnesty for men convicted of statutory rape, provided that they marry their victim.



It is the latest example of how governments around the world are failing to protect women — and even institutionalizing inequities that put them in danger.

From Lebanon where a rapist can escape punishment if he marries his victim to India where rape within marriage is legal, bad laws are underpinning a global epidemic of sexual violence.

A survey of laws in 73 countries found rapists could avoid punishment if they married their victim in at least nine jurisdictions, including Lebanon, Turkey, Oman, Singapore Bahrain, Iraq, Philippines, Tajikistan and until recently Tunisia.

Marital rape is permitted by law in at least 10 of the countries studied by campaign group Equality Now, including Ghana, Lesotho, Oman, Singapore and Sri Lanka.

In four of these, marital rape is even allowed when the “wife” is a child and the marriage illegal, researchers said.

Sometimes women take their own lives rather than submit to this kind of a relationship. The suicide of a 16-year-old girl in Morocco prompted that country to rescind its law in 2014.

“Unless governments fix their laws on rape and sexual assault and implement them effectively … we are unlikely to see an end to the worldwide abuse of women and girls any time soon,” Equality Now’s executive director Yasmeen Hassan said in the report launched on International Women’s Day.

A research shows laws that allow perpetrators of sexual violence to walk free on reaching a settlement.

In a recent case in Somalia that made international headlines, a group of teenage boys who posted a video online of themselves raping two girls tried to avoid jail by paying for their crime in camels.

In some countries a woman who reports rape can even end up being punished for breaking laws against extramarital sex if she cannot prove she was assaulted.

A recent research by the group highlight a case in Lebanon where a 24-year-old man who raped a 12-year-old girl tried to marry her to avoid punishment

Although her parents declined, they have not pushed for his prosecution, and because of the social stigma surrounding rape victims they have betrothed the girl to a relative.

Morocco overhauled a similar law in 2014 following the suicide of a 16-year-old girl and the attempted suicide of a 15-year-old who were forced to marry their rap

A handful of places have recently repealed these laws, including Tunisia, Morocco and Tunisia


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