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Lax rape laws are pervasive around the world, study says

By WITW Staff on March 7, 2017

Laws doling out lenient punishments to perpetrators of sexual abuse — and laws that permit rapists to evade punishment completely — are ubiquitous in many countries across the globe, according to a new report by Equality Now.

The organization surveyed sexual violence laws of 82 jurisdictions around the world, 73 of which were located in U.N. member states. Among the problematic legislation identified by the report, according to The Guardian, are laws that allow perpetrators to escape punishment if they marry their victims. At least nine jurisdictions adhere to such laws, including Iraq and Kuwait. In Greece, “criminal prosecution lapses and is declared inadmissible” if the perpetrator and survivor marry, though it is possible that this law only applies to circumstances involving statutory rape.

In Belgium, Russia, and Singapore, and at least nine other jurisdictions, perpetrators can evade punishment by proposing a settlement to the survivor. In the Philippines, Syria, Serbia, and several other countries, criminal cases are closed if the survivor forgives the perpetrator.

The report also found that several jurisdictions — among them Belgium, Jordan, Nigeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Yemen — frame sexual assault as a violation of morality and decency, rather than as a violent act of bodily harm. This nuance in legal terminology, according to the report, “positions the woman or girl as the repository of the so-called honor of her community rather than putting the opprobrium squarely where it should lie — on the perpetrator.”

The report concluded that although rape and sexual abuse affect almost one billion women and girls over the course of their lives, laws dealing with sexual violence “are insufficient, inconsistent, not systematically enforced and, sometimes, promote violence.”

Read the full story at The Guardian.


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