The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein warmly welcomed the repeal of laws in Lebanon, Tunisia and Jordan that allowed rapists to avoid criminal prosecution by marrying their victims.
A statement of the office of the High Commissioner quoted him saying that “to punish a rape victim by making her marry the perpetrator of a horrible crime against her – there is no place in today’s world for such hideous laws. I warmly welcome the stand that lawmakers in Lebanon, Tunisia and Jordan have taken towards eliminating violence against women and ensuring that perpetrators of such violence are held to account.”
He described the scrapping of the law that makes the victim marry her rapist as a “hard won victory”, adding that this law was repealed thanks to “the tireless campaigns over the years by human rights defenders – in particular women human rights defenders – in Tunisia, Lebanon and Jordan.”
In this respect, he called on the governments and people of these countries – and other countries in the region – to build on this positive momentum, and to work towards the swift repeal of other legislation that condones sexual violence against women and girls and perpetuates discrimination against them in clear violation of international human rights law.
Last July, the Tunisian parliament adopted a law on eliminating violence against women and eliminating impunity for perpetrators, recognizing that violence against women includes economic, sexual, political and psychological violence. The law will come into effect next year.
The Jordanian lawmakers voted on August 1 to abolish a provision that provided that if a person accused of rape agreed to marry the victim, the accused not be subjected to criminal prosecution. Two weeks later, Lebanon followed suit abolishing the same provision from its penal code.