Jordan Ends Law Allowing Rapists to Avoid Penalty by Marrying Victims

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The Lower House of Parliament in Jordan has on Tuesday, repealed a law that allowed rapists to escape punishment by marrying their victims. The vote was hailed as a major step forward for women in the conservative kingdom. Prime Minister Hani Mulki addressed the plenum before the vote, saying the government backs repeal.

Human Rights Watch has called for repeal.

The decision still has to be passed by the Senate and approved by Jordan's King Abdullah II.

In May of previous year, Bahrain's Parliament approved the scrapping of a similar legal provision there, although the cabinet has yet to approve the move.

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The provision remains on the books in several countries in the Middle East, Latin America and Asia.

Activists had campaigned for years to abolish Article 308, which allowed rape charges to be dropped if the rapist married his victim and did not divorce her for five years.

In the conservative Jordanian community, whose tribal nature endorses notions of "family honor", Article 308 encouraged rapists to marry their victims and the latter's families to support the union.

Women who are raped in Jordan often face a lot of stigma from family members and their communities, accused of bringing "dishonour" to their families. The need for such "protection" indicates a fundamental problem in how Jordanian law and society perceive women, said Eva Abu Halaweh, executive manager of Mizan for Law, a human rights group.

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