Jordan parliament repeals ‘marry the rapist’ rule

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — The Jordanian parliament on Tuesday voted to repeal a provision that allowed a rapist to escape punishment if he married his victim.

Lawmakers voted on the proposed repeal as part of an overall reform of the penal code.

The push for reform had come from a royal committee, which recommended repealing Article 308 — the “marry the rapist” clause.

Despite a pro-Western political orientation and cosmopolitan urban elites, many areas of Jordan remain socially conservative, with entrenched notions of “family honor.” This includes the belief that having a rape victim in the family is shameful, and that such “shame” can be expunged through marriage.

The Jordanian Parliament (Jordan Parliament official)

Critics had said that a failure to repeal Article 308 and instead adopt amendments would mean a step backward in a campaign of many years to end impunity for violence against women.

The international group Human Rights Watch described Article 308 as “a blight on Jordan’s human rights record for decades.”

The New York-based watchdog said the loophole for rapists had put pressure on women and girls to marry those who assaulted them, including teenage victims.

Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt have scrapped similar clauses over the years, the group said. It said Lebanon’s parliament is considering repealing such a provision.

The “marry the rapist” provision remains on the books in several other countries in the Middle East and Latin America, as well as in the Philippines and Tajikistan, HRW said.

Ahead of Tuesday’s vote, several dozen activists rallied outside parliament, calling for repeal. They held up banners reading “Article 308 is a disgrace to the Jordanian justice system” and “Article 308 does not protect honor, it protects the culprit.”

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