End Article 308: No to Marriage Loophole for Rapists, Say Jordanians

Published July 30th, 2017 - 09:42 GMT
Jordanians are demanding the end of a legal provision that sees rapists get away with their crime by marrying their victims (Twitter)
Jordanians are demanding the end of a legal provision that sees rapists get away with their crime by marrying their victims (Twitter)

Jordanians are demanding the end of a legal provision that sees rapists get away with their crime by marrying their victims.

The hashtag “remove [article] 308 [of the penal code]” has been trending in Jordan as a debate on changing the law gets underway in the country's Parliament.

In April, the repeal of the article was approved by Jordan’s cabinet, following recommendations from a royal committee. The decision was hailed as a victory by women’s rights activists worldwide.

However, the change required approval by Parliament. At that stage, the House of Representatives referred the amended penal code for review by a legal committee.

Instead of supporting the government’s calls for the complete removal of the law, that committee advised instead that the article be kept with changes.

Those changes would see the minimum length of the marriage between the rapist and his victim raised to seven years from three, with potential for the rapist to be prosecuted for his original crime if his wife later accuses him of abuse.

In the National Assembly they are awaiting the discussion of Article 308 of the penal code. Some MPs say respect each others opinion, but we support the amendment not removal.

MP Saleh Armouti responded to the law by saying that “apparently, the legal committee and others who are pressuring to keep this humiliating article do not understand its impact”.

“There are no solid grounds for taking the option of amendment instead of annulment since the edits maintain the core of the legal loophole,” Armouti told The Jordan Times.

“What if the victim was raped by more than one? Which of them would be the husband and evade the penalty? And we need to take in consideration that DNA tests are not decisive in proving parentage in case of pregnancy during rape cases.”

Some in Jordan suggest that the law is a way of protecting women’s honor and reputation. However, many back the removal of article 308, which they see as a violation of women’s right to justice and protection from their attackers.

In a joint statement made on Saturday on the website Namdi.net, a “group of women’s and rights leaders, representatives of civil society organizations and human rights activists” issued a call for “the National Assembly to repeal Article 308 of the penal code”.

They highlighted a number of reasons, including the familial pressure the victims can come under in such cases, as well as protecting children and women’s rights.

A number of demonstrators calling for the removal of the controversial article also gathered outside the House of Representatives in the capital Amman on Sunday morning.

Meanwhile, hundreds have taken to social media to express support for the removal of controversial law.

Put yourself in the place of the raped girl, this law does not protect her, this law could make her commit suicide, because she is married to someone who ripped apart her innocence and pillaged her soul.

In the present century Jordan allows a  rapist to marry his victim in exchange for impunity and to punish the victim instead of the offender.

A despicable law which is unfair against the humanity of women and protects the rapist from any punishment or accountability... it's wrong!

Jordan is not the only country to show leniency if rapists marry their victims: similar laws exist in many Arab countries. Lebanon has seen a concerted campaign against its article 522; in December, protesters hung wedding dresses by nooses on Beirut’s seafront to express opposition to the ‘rape law’.

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