Activists protest Mozambique rape laws

A woman wearing a blood spattered wedding dress led protestors on a march through Mozambique’s capital to condemn a colonial-era law allowing rapists to go unpunished if they marry their victim for a minimum of five years.

The ‘marriage effect’ clause gives a convicted rapist a suspended five-year sentence if the man chooses to marry the person he raped.  The clause has fallen into disuse in recent years.

The clause has been included in a new package of legislation to replace the 1886 Portuguese colonial penal code currently being debated in the Mozambique parliament after being rushed through and passed in December.

 It is awaiting special committee approval before it will be sent back to parliament for a final vote.

Around 300 protestors walked through the streets of Maputo carrying signs and chanting condemnation.  The  crowd walked towards the parliament with banners stating they refuse to marry a rapist.

Activists told AFP they were concerned about the high number of rapes in the country and the number of attacks against women.

Many in the country are also concerned with the new legislation’s definition of rape.  The new law does not protect married women from acts of sexual assault carried out by their husband.

A husband who rapes his wife is not classified as a rapist under the law.  Rape in general is defined strictly as vaginal penetration, leaving some to worry that victims of oral or anal sexual assault may be left without protection.


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