Tunisians have expressed their anger after a child was forced to marry her 20-year-old relative who allegedly raped her on multiple occasions, resulting in her falling pregnant.
A court in Kef, northeast of the country, issued a decision last week granting leniency to the perpetrator on the condition of his marriage to the girl. In Tunisia, article 227 of the penal code allows a rapist to escape prosecution if he marries his victim.
A spokesperson for the court claimed that “we heard from the girl and after checking all the details, we considered that she was fit for marriage.”
The head of child welfare in the Kef region responded that: “When it is a child of 13 years, one cannot speak about sex with consent. This is rape.”
Protests were organized last Wednesday in response to the incident:
For those Tunisians who are available, meet tomorrow at 10 am, before the Kef Court of First Instance and soon afterwards a demonstration will take place in Tunis.
Demonstrations took place outside the Assembly of the Representatives of the People in Tunis, in order to call for a change to the law. They shouted slogans such as “down with article 227”, “a backwards law” and “revise the shameful article.”
Many have also expressed their condemnation for the ruling on social media:
What shame! It is time to react!
Congratulations to this pedophile, he can now rape legally, with the blessing of law and society. It is shameful and scandalous, and there are many like Ahlem [reportedly the name of the minor] these days.
Avocats, journalistes, politiciens qui cherchent à "relativiser" le viol d'une enfant de 13 ans, un conseil: changez de planète.— Ahlem HachichaChaker (@AhlemHC) December 14, 2016
Lawyers, journalists, politicians who seek to "relativize" the rape of a 13-year-old child, a piece of advice: change planet.
It’s the law that has to change, and mentalities. Apparently the child of 13 who was raped is also pregnant.
Tunisia is not the only country in the region to have such a law. The Lebanese government recently agreed to change their equivalent legislation after protests on the streets of Beirut. In Turkey a proposed bill allowing those who sexually abuse minors to escape prison through marriage was withdrawn last month following protests.
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