Monday December 11th, 2023
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This Haunting Installation Protests Law that Acquits Rapists if They Marry Their Victims in Lebanon

Lebanese artist Mireille Honein vividly illustrates her views on how Lebanon treats rape victims.

Staff Writer

On Saturday, along Beirut’s famous sunny seaside promenade, an open-air exhibition was on display showcasing the effects of Lebanon’s rape laws.

31 eerie-looking wedding dresses were strung up between palm trees along the city’s corniche, creating a chilling display representing the despair of Lebanese rape victims. The dresses and the idea were conceived by Lebanese artist Mireille Honein.

The protest brings attention to Article 522 of Lebanon’s penal code, being dubbed as “the rape law”, which provides rapists with a legal loophole to escape criminal prosecution by marrying their victims. Egypt repealed a similar law (Article 291) in 1999. In February, a parliamentary committee approved a proposal to remove the law. The Lebanese parliament is also now set to vote on the article on the 15th of May.

Honein decided to stage the protest for sixteen days to pressure the country’s MPs to vote in favour of repealing the law. Talking to Al Jazeera, Mireille stresses she made the dresses out of white wrapping paper “to highlight the ephemeral nature of marriage and of laws.” Alia Awad, from the non-governmental organisation ABAAD, revealed to Agence France-Press that there are thirty-one dresses because “[t]here are 31 days in a month and every single day, a woman may be raped and forced to marry her rapist”.

Passers-by have been sharing their pictures of the protest on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #Undress522.

Photo: Patrick Baz, AFP