'Historic Day for Jordanian Women': Joy as Marriage Loophole for Rapists Removed

Published August 2nd, 2017 - 09:22 GMT
A concerted social media campaign pushed for the removal of Jordan's controversial article 308 (Twitter)
A concerted social media campaign pushed for the removal of Jordan's controversial article 308 (Twitter)

On Tuesday, Jordan's Parliament voted to revoke an article of the penal code which allowed a rapist to escape punishment if he married his victim.

After years of campaigning against the controversial clause, many Jordanians were overjoyed at the news. 

“I feel like we’re living in a historic moment,” Suad Abu Dayyeh, feminist campaign group Equality Now’s Middle East and North Africa Consultant, told The Independent from Amman.

“All these years of campaigning have paid off and will send a positive message to the rest of the region.”

Figures from Jordan's Ministry of Justice indicate that between 2010-2013, 159 rapists avoided punishment by marrying their victims.

Civil society representatives who were present in the gallery of the country's House of Representatives on Tuesday to witness the historic vote showed their happiness in the most Jordanian way possible.

Ululation (the trilling sound made by Arab women during celebrations) breaks out on the gallery of the House of Representatives after the cancellation of article_308 #Jordan

The activists had held a sit-in outside parliament prior to the session, demanding the removal of the article. They were also behind a concerted social media campaign and online petition pushing for the article's cancellation.

Former Prime Minister, Samir Al-Rifai, tweeted the following in response to the decision:

The abolition of Article # 308 is a victory for the principles of justice and the rule of law. It is the completion of our national reform project, and brings into view the civilized face of our state, and the status of Jordanian women.

(The pictured Facebook post, dated from April 24 when the government approved the removal of the article, reads “The government's decision to approve the bill by repealing Article 308 is a responsible decision that would remove a situation of extreme injustice which provides impunity for the perpetrator.”)

This Jordanian artist responded with a cartoon showing Jordan throwing article 308 into the bin, while making the celebratory ululation sound.

Jordanian TV presenter Dima Faraj said in a tweet:

Wheno you feel like you have made a difference. Thanks to everyone. Hope exists for events of change despite all the difficulties #Jordan #JustSaying #Thank you #Article_308

Responding to the news, head of the National Centre for Human Rights (NCHR) Musa Braizat said it was a “step in the right direction” for human rights in Jordan, The Jordan Times reported.

“We are so happy to be part of this important day for women and this is a proof that the civil movement and lobbying have made a difference among our respected deputies and society as a whole,” Salma Nims, Secretary General of the Jordanian National Commission for Women told the local paper.

 

Other Jordanians responded on Facebook:

Finally, article 308 of the penal code "which exempts the rapist from punishment if he marries his victim," was repealed. This cancellation is a victory for the rule of law. The question remains as to which MPs signed the cancellation and which MPs refrained and did not sign... !!!

Congratulations on repealing article 308. 340 remains!

This refers to article 340 of Jordan's penal code, which has been applied by the judiciary to reduce penalities in "honor crimes" cases, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW). 

While 340 applies only in a very specific circumstance (when a man attacks or kills a female relative having found her in the act of "adultery"), article 98 sees reduced penalties for crimes committed in a "state of great fury".

State news agency Petra announced on Sunday that Jordan's parliament had decided on the amendment of article 98, meaning that anger would no longer be considered a mitigating circumstance for "honor crimes."

HRW has reported that every year 15-20 Jordanian women are killed after their families perceive them to have acted against their 'honor'.


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