Mozambique activists protest law allowing rapists to marry their victims

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Protesters rallied Thursday in Mozambique against a colonial-era Portuguese law included in current legislation that allows rapists to skirt punishment if they marry their victims.

The “marriage effect” clause stipulates that if a rapist has already been sentenced, marrying the victim would suspend that sentence, which would only be enforced in the event that the couple divorced or separated. Marrying the victim before sentencing would clear the charges, the South African news agency IOL reported.

The clause has been retained in new legislation replacing the Portuguese penal code of 1886, which is currently before parliament, Agence France-Presse reported.

Thursday’s event in Maputo was hosted by International rights group Amnesty International, where a woman in a blood-splattered wedding gown led a group of about 300 to parliament.

“Marry the rapist? No!” read a banner carried by a protester.

The draft code also defines rape in marriage as adultery, not a crime, and specifies only vaginal penetration as rape.

It is now under discussion by special parliamentary groups before going back to the assembly for a final vote, AFP reported.

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