A man in his 20s has married his 13-year-old step-sister after raping her and getting her pregnant.
He married the young girl in the northwest region of Kef in Tunisia in the presence of both their parents, despite them previously attempting to stop the wedding.
Though it is illegal to have sex with someone under the age of 15, if no force was used during the attack, an alleged rapist can stop his prosecution by marrying his victim, according to article 288 of Tunisia’s criminal code.
Chokri Mejri, a spokesperson for the court, claims the girl ‘was not raped’ and added: ‘We interviewed the girl and after verifying all the details, we considered her fit for marriage.’
Yet the court’s decision has enraged Tunisians who protested against the decision on Wednesday by holding banners which read: ‘How I met your mother? I raped her when she was 13.’
Tunisia is one of the leading countries in the Arab world advocating for women’s rights yet traditional gender stereotypes and old laws remain embedded in the justice system.
The country’s prime minister said on Friday that they should prioritise a discussion on changing the law ahead of a review on all articles ‘concerning the fight against violence targeting women’.
A wedding party which was prepared for the girl involved was subsequently cancelled after the government’s child protection office called for the marriage to be annulled.
Houda Abboudi, a representative, said: ‘When it’s a 13-year-old child, we can’t talk of sexual relations with consent. It’s rape.
‘The court’s decision didn’t take into account the interests of this child […] who will marry her rapist.’
Tunisian women are often discouraged from filing complaints of rape because it’s thought they are bringing shame on their families if they speak about their sexual abuse.
(culled from metro.co.uk)