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Article Bahrain: New Law Repeals Penal Code Provision Exempting Rapists from Punishment

On June 26, 2023, the king of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, approved Law No. 7 of 2023, which repeals article 353 of Decree Law No. 15 of 1967 on the Penal Code. The new law was published in the Bahraini official gazette on the same day.

Article 353 of the Penal Code

The repealed article 353 exonerated a perpetrator of rape (including one who used his authority to commit the crime) or sexual assault if that person married the victim. In instances where the perpetrator had been convicted and sentenced by a court for such crimes, the sentence would be suspended and its criminal effects would cease once the perpetrator married his victim.

Reactions to the Repeal of Article 353

Reactions to the new law from Bahraini lawmakers and government officials have been supportive.

Ali bin Saleh al-Saleh, chairman of the Shura Council (upper chamber of the parliament), said that the newly issued law protects women’s rights. Dalal al-Zayed, chairman of the Legal and Legislative Affairs Committee of the Shura Council, declared that the new legislation has been fully endorsed by the executive and the legislative branches of the government, as well as by civil society organizations.

The minister of justice, Islamic affairs and endowments, Nawaf al-Maawda, said that the repeal of article 353 of the penal code achieves deterrence and asserts the principle of no impunity.

Members of domestic and international organizations have likewise expressed support for the new law.

Ali Ahmed al-Derazi, head of the country’s National Institution for Human Rights, indicated that the legislative authority’s decision to repeal article 353 of the penal code adheres to international conventions on the elimination of discrimination against women. Additionally, the U.N. resident coordinator in Bahrain, Khaled el-Mekwad, praised the repeal of article 353 in a statement describing the measure as a milestone legislative reform that will enhance the protection of the fundamental rights of women and girls in the country.

George Sadek, Law Library of Congress
August 14, 2023

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Chicago citation style:

Sadek, George. Bahrain: New Law Repeals Penal Code Provision Exempting Rapists from Punishment. 2023. Web Page. https://www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2023-08-13/bahrain-new-law-repeals-penal-code-provision-exempting-rapists-from-punishment/.

APA citation style:

Sadek, G. (2023) Bahrain: New Law Repeals Penal Code Provision Exempting Rapists from Punishment. [Web Page] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2023-08-13/bahrain-new-law-repeals-penal-code-provision-exempting-rapists-from-punishment/.

MLA citation style:

Sadek, George. Bahrain: New Law Repeals Penal Code Provision Exempting Rapists from Punishment. 2023. Web Page. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2023-08-13/bahrain-new-law-repeals-penal-code-provision-exempting-rapists-from-punishment/>.