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Jordan axes controversial law allowing rapists to escape punishment Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Jordan axes controversial law allowing rapists to escape punishment

The law had let rapists avoid jail terms if they married their victim [Getty]

Date of publication: 25 April, 2017

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After years of campaigning, rapists in Jordan will no longer be given a get out of jail free card for marrying their victims to preserve their "honour".
Jordan has scrapped a controversial legal loophole which allowed convicted rapists escape punishment by marrying their victims.

The Jordanian Cabinet on Sunday decided to revoke Article 308 of the penal code, following years of campaigning by women's activists.

The law let rapists avoid jail terms if they married their victim for at least three years.

"This is a step forward in the criminal justice system that will end cases of people escaping punishment and get rid of legislation that is unfair towards women," lawmaker and women's rights activist Wafa Banimustafa told The New Arab.

Banimustafa expressed hope that parliament would back further laws that expand on women's rights in the kingdom.

Rape victims in Jordan often face stigma from family members and their communities, who accuse them of bringing "dishonour" to their families.

In extreme cases, women have been murdered in so-called honour crimes.

Read also: Lebanon activists escalate pressure to scrap controversial rape law

Jordanian lawmakers argued in the past that Article 308 prevented rape victims from becoming social outcasts.

In recent years a growing number of civil society activists have focused on gender equality in the kingdom and have fought to abolish the law.

In 2012, Jordanian activists and bloggers organised street protests and circulated an online petition calling the government to eliminate Article 308.

According to figures from Jordan's ministry of justice, 159 rapists avoided punishment by marrying their victims from 2010 to 2013.

In January 2014, Morocco's parliament voted unanimously to amend an article of the penal code – similar to Jordan's Article 308 – after intensive lobbying and protests across the country.

Egypt, where sexual harassment is a major problem, also cancelled a similar provision a few years ago.

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