Bahrain abolishes rape-marriage law

A Bahraini journalist takes a selfie with King Hamad

A Bahraini journalist takes a selfie with King Hamad

MANAMA: Bahrain has abolished a law that allowed rape charges to be dropped if the perpetrator married his victim.

Article 353 of the 1976 Penal Code permitted rapists to go unpunished as long as they married their victims.

However, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa has repealed the article following the approval of the bicameral parliament last month.

Women’s rights activists in Bahrain have called for the article to be dropped, arguing that it represented a double punishment for female victims of rape: first the rape itself, then marrying their attacker.

Some argued that the “forced” marriage would reward the rapist and must not stand, especially that under Islamic law, the consent of the two spouses is mandatory for a legal marriage.

In several countries across the world, the rape-marriage law exonerates a man who commits rape or sexual assault if he marries his female victim, or, in some jurisdictions, at least offers to marry her.

The “marry the rapist” clause has long existed in socially countries where “family honor” is an important cultural and social value, and thus allow men to have rape convictions overturned if they marry the women or girls they have assaulted.

Many parents often agree to “rapist marriages” to minimize “family shame.”

However, activists have argued against rewarding the rapist for his crime by allowing him to marry the victim, taking advantage of her challenging social conditions, or taking into account the values of honor and covering up the crime and the social dimension.


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