Countries Are Banning Rapists From Marrying Their Victims To Avoid Punishment: Report

Amhara are an ethnic group in the central highlands of Ethiopia. Numbering about 25.6 million people, they comprise 31 percent of the country's population.
Amhara are an ethnic group in the central highlands of Ethiopia. Numbering about 25.6 million people, they comprise 31 percent of the country's population.

More countries are aiming to end sexual violence against women, as gender equality continues to become a priority around the world.

In a new report, advocacy group Equality Now found that since 2000, five countries -- Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Peru and Uruguay -- have repealed or amended provisions that had allowed rapists to avoid punishment by marrying their victims.

The developments are among a variety of other positive resolutions highlighted in the report, which examined progress and setbacks regarding gender equality on the 20-year anniversary of the United Nations' 4th World Conference on Women held in Beijing. A handful of other countries, for example, have criminalized marital rape in the past 15 years, and Colombia, Mexico, Romania and Turkey have passed legislation equalizing the minimum ages for males and females to legally wed.

However, the report -- which examined laws involving economic status, violence against women, marital status and personal status (such as citizenship) -- noted that a major milestone tracking gender equality had not been met.

In 2000, the U.N. General Assembly set a goal to end all laws that discriminated against women around the world by 2005 -- an objective that "was far from met," according to the report. A decade after the target year, women are still fighting for respect as equals in numerous ways.

Dozens of countries spanning the globe still have no law banning violence in the home. It's an issue that has historically been both ignored by governing bodies and underreported by women, according to Liesl Gerntholtz, executive director of the women's rights division at Human Rights Watch.

"Because the violence is so invisible you [need] laws to enroll judges, police and other authorities to look for it and prosecute it," she told The Huffington Post last year. "Violence against women is frighteningly simple and complex. Violence will stop when perpetrators stop."

Women also remain significantly less economically empowered than their male counterparts. On average, women earn between 4 and 36 percent less than what men earn, according to the International Labor Organization's Global Wage Report 2014/15. They also make up a smaller share of the labor force: 72.2 percent of men globally were employed in 2013, while 47.1 percent of women were, according to a report published last year.

Still, the world has witnessed significant progress in ending gender-based discrimination worldwide, and -- according to U.N. Women -- more women in positions of influence has made a difference.

"Ensuring women are in parliaments, are on the front line of justice, and are represented in the judiciary and customary justice systems helps women to access their rights," the group says.

Ken Clarke
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Tory big beast Ken Clarke faced calls for his resignation following comments he made about rape sentencing policy. The then Justice Secretary was speaking to BBC 5 Live in 2011 when he appeared to suggest date rape is not always “rape”. Addressing presenter Victoria Derbyshire, he said: “Assuming that you and I are taking about rape in the ordinary conversational sense, some man has forcefully…” In this full transcript provided by the BBC, Derbyshire interjected with: “Rape is rape,” to which Clarke replied: “No it’s not.”
Rick Santorum
ASSOCIATED PRESS
In 2012 GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum explained his opposition to abortion even in cases of rape in an interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan. He said that women who face such circumstances should “make the best of a bad situation”. When asked what he would say if his own daughter approached him, begging for an abortion after being raped, he explained he would counsel her to “accept this horribly created” baby because it was still a gift from God, even if it was given in a “broken” way.
George Galloway
ASSOCIATED PRESS
George Galloway ignited fierce debate in 2012 over comments he made relating to the sex crime allegations against WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange. On his podcast Good Night with George Galloway, posted on YouTube, he said: “It might be really sordid and bad sexual etiquette, but whatever else it is, it is not rape or you bankrupt the term rape of all meaning.” Swedish prosecutors wish to question Assange on suspicion of offences of unlawful coercion, sexual molestation and rape.
Roger Helmer
Matt Cardy via Getty Images
In 2011 UKIP candidate Roger Helmer blogged his opinion that there are distinctions between “date” and “stranger” rape. “Rape is always wrong, but not always equally culpable,” he wrote. With reference to “stranger” rape, he said: “… the victim surely shares a part of the responsibility, if only for establishing reasonable expectations in her boyfriend’s mind.”
Alan Pardew
ASSOCIATED PRESS
In 2009 then BBC football pundit Alan Pardew, now coach of Newcastle United, was forced to issue an apology after he compared a tackle by Chelsea’s Michael Essien to a rape on Match of the Day. Essien had collided with City’s striker Ched Evans when Pardew said: “He’s a strong boy. He knocks him off." As Alan Hansen interjected with “he mauls him”, Pardew added: "he absolutely rapes him."
Graeme Swan
ASSOCIATED PRESS
In 2013 England spinner Graeme Swann said sorry after comparing the third Ashes Test loss to Australia as being “arse raped” Swann made the comments on Facebook during an exchange with his brother hours after England’s loss. He took to Twitter to apologise: “Sorry to anyone who was offended by my comments in the papers today. Crass and thoughtless of me in the extreme.”
Demetri Marchessini
In May UKIP Donor Demetri Marchessini argued there was no such as thing as marital rape, claiming: “If you make love on Friday and make love on Sunday, you can’t say Saturday is rape.” When asked whether UKIP should be taking cash from a donor with such repellent views, leader Nigel Farage replied: “Possibly not.”
Judge Derek Johnson
California judge Derek Johnson was publicly admonished in 2012 for suggesting a rape victim “did not put up a fight” and that if someone truly doesn’t want to have sex, their body “will not permit that to happen.” Judge Johnson made his comments during a case where a man threatened to mutilate the face and genitals of his former girlfriend with a heated screwdriver. In documents published on the Californian Commisson on Judicial Performance, he is recorded as saying: “I'm not a gynecologist, but I can tell you something - if someone doesn't want to have sexual intercourse, the body shuts down. The body will not permit that to happen unless a lot of damage is inflicted, and we heard nothing about that in this case.”
Todd Aikin
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Failed Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin suggested in 2012 that victims of “legitimate rape” don’t need the option of abortion because they “rarely” become pregnant. He later apologised.

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