Women calling for the repeal of a law in Jordan allowing rapists to escape punishment if they marry their victims stood outside Parliament in Amman on Tuesday. CreditReem Saad/Associated Press
The Parliament in Jordan voted Tuesday to revoke a law allowing rapists to evade criminal prosecution if they marry their victims, becoming the latest country in the Middle East to move to scrap such laws.
A handful of countries, including several in the Arab world as well as in the Philippines, a majority Catholic country, have maintained legal provisions for men accused or convicted of rape to avoid punishment. Women’s groups have agitated for years for the laws to be repealed, saying they further victimize rape survivors. And one by one, the laws are falling.
A government committee in Jordan had recommended that the law, known as Article 308 of the country’s penal code, be revoked and the lower house of the Jordanian Parliament voted to do so on Tuesday. The repeal is expected to be endorsed by the appointed Senate and approved by King Abdullah II.
Cheers went up from the spectators gallery in Parliament when the measure passed, according to an Associated Press report from Amman, the Jordanian capital.
Suad Abu-Dayyeh, a Middle East expert at Equality Now, a women’s rights group, called it “a historical moment.”
“Jordan is now setting a very good example for other countries in the region that still have these discriminatory legal provisions,” she said in a statement.
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Morocco repealed its marry-your-rapist law in 2014, after a widely publicized case of a teenager who killed herself after she was forced to wed the man she accused of raping her. A parliamentary committee in Lebanon has recommended that its law be repealed; a vote by the full legislature is expected later this year. And Tunisia got rid of its law last week.
Proponents of the laws contend that they shield the survivor and her family from the shame of rape. In patriarchal societies, including in the Arab world, a family’s honor is often deeply linked to a woman’s chastity.
Opponents say that laws promote impunity for rape.
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