Women 'sometimes to blame for rape', says Lebanese MP

Women 'sometimes to blame for rape', says Lebanese MP
Elie Marouni has sparked international outrage with claims blaming women in 'certain circumstances'.
2 min read
09 Sep, 2016
MP Elias Marouni has reignited the debate on 'rape before marriage' in Lebanon [Getty]

A Lebanese MP has sparked controversy after he claimed that rape victims were sometimes to blame for their attack.

Elie Marouni said women invited men to rape them in "certain circumstances". A video of his comments at an event held by the Centre for Public Policies emerged late on Thursday on Lebanon's LBC News website. 

"There are certain circumstances where we need to ask ourselves if women have a role in pushing men to rape them," Marouni said.

Hayat Murshad was also at the event. "I believe that MPs should be more responsible about the language they use - this speech was offensive to all women," she told LBC News.

The comments have ignited fury on Twitter and the Lebanese blogosphere.

One Twitter user wrote: "Elie Marouni is one of the reasons women get raped in Lebanon."

The radio station Jaras Scoop FM tweeted: "If we lived in an honourable country, Elie Marouni would step down."

Other social media users have been attempting to make sure the MPs comments do not go under-reported.

Journalist Seinab Hawi tweeted: "Let everyone know."

Lebanon's legal system has long struggled with how to punish rapists.

Article 522 of Lebanon's Penal Code states that a rapist or kidnapper can escape prosecution if he marries his victim.

One of the main problems for Lebanese authorities trying to target rapists - as it is elsewhere - is that many attacks are not reported to police.

In July 2016, a 16-year-old girl was drugged and raped by three male companions in Dahr el-Ain, a village near Tripoli. The attack caused outrage in Lebanese society.

And according to recent research by Amnesty International, many Syrian refugee women have reported sexual harrassment from Lebanese men offering money or marriage.

"I feel threatened financially, psychologically and emotionally... Everyone approaches me to go with them in exchange for money," Reem, a 28-year-old Syrian refugee told researchers in Beirut.

"[Once] I was almost kidnapped. [Another time] someone said that they would give me money for rent in return for marriage. I say to them: 'Who gives you the right to speak to me like this?'"

Follow Robert Cusack on Twitter: @rob_cusack