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Cabinet urges MPs to reconsider removing controversial article from the law

Bahrain News
Fri, 10 Mar 2017

MANAMA: The government has urged MPs to reconsider their decision to scrap a controversial article that allows rapists to escape punishment if they marry their victims. 

Parliament last year voted to scrap article 353 of the 1976 Penal Code, stating that it was a loophole that rapists were benefiting from and not female victims.

However, a letter has been referred to Parliament by the Cabinet highlighting the need for the article to remain but amending it to ensure "multiple rapists do not escape punishment". 

The Cabinet's explanation has been supported by the Legislation and Legal Opinion Commission.

“The article MPs intend to scrap doesn’t tackle rape and it doesn’t protect women from being subject to such crime," stated the letter. 

"MPs are missing out on the bigger picture and that’s the community having a negative opinion of the victim and her family, especially if she gets pregnant.

“The victim would also be in a bad position amongst her family - and for clarification it is the right of the child born out of wedlock to be with his father and under his care.

“At the moment the victim has the choice to accept marriage or reject it, with the marriage sparing the rapist punishment otherwise legal proceedings continue as well as the sentence.

“The article just needs to be amended to ensure that in if there is a case with multiple rapists there should be no choice because it goes against justice and all should be punished.”

The GDN reported in January that an online campaign to scrap the article has been launched by the Bahrain Women’s Union (BWU) to raise awareness of the practice both at home and abroad.

Twitter accounts of BWU members and supporters have been posting questions in Arabic and English about whether Article 353 of should be scrapped.