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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

3/23/2014 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Law would nullify rape charges if man marries victim

A horrible and antiquated law in Mozambique - which exonerates the rapist of all charges if he marries his victim - is being protested by the women's rights activists here. The activists are opposing proposed legislation that includes the old law -- even if it results in forced early marriage.

One young woman wore a blood-spattered wedding gown to lead a group of some 300 people in last week's march to protest near the parliament building, where some carried banners reading, 'Marry the rapist? No!'

One young woman wore a blood-spattered wedding gown to lead a group of some 300 people in last week's march to protest near the parliament building, where some carried banners reading, "Marry the rapist? No!"

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

3/23/2014 (2 years ago)

Published in Africa

Keywords: Mozambique, rape, virginity, law, protest


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Activists marched in the capital city of Maputo last week against a new penal code currently before parliament. The ruling includes a Portuguese colonial-era provision giving convicted rapists five-year suspended sentences if they wed and stay married to their victims for five years.

Morocco abolished a similar law earlier this year that allowed a rapist to avoid prosecution by marrying an underage victim. According to a report by Amnesty International, while the age of marriage is 18 in Morocco, judges often ruled in favor of early forced marriage to preserve a family's honor.

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In societies still extant in the world today, the forcible rape of a young girl and the loss of her virginity cast a shadow of shame and stigma and decrease her chances of marriage. Activists say that the law may encourage families to force young women into early marriages with their rapists. Amnesty is conducting campaigns against similar laws in Algeria and Tunisia.

Vice president of Mozambique's human rights and legality commission Ernesto Lapapa says that protection of family honor comes up frequently in opinion surveys as an important factor in support of the law.

"Premature marriage is normal in Mozambique," Lapapa said, noting that "if someone is involved with a child, their family obliges them to get married."

One young woman wore a blood-spattered wedding gown to lead a group of some 300 people in last week's march to protest near the parliament building, where some carried banners reading, "Marry the rapist? No!"

Protester Aulzira Camacho says that the proposed new law "is an attack on us as women."

Women's rights activists also oppose the provision of the code that restricts the definition of criminal rape to vaginal penetration, excluding oral or anal penetration. The new penal code is expected to come up for a final vote this spring.

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