Jordan repeals 'marry the rapist' law

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Jordan’s parliament has repealed a provision in its penal code that allowed a rapist to escape punishment if he married his victim.

Cheers erupted from the spectators’ gallery as legislators narrowly voted to scrap controversial Article 308.

The vote came after an emotional debate in which some politicians argued that an amended version of the clause was needed to protect rape victims against social stigma by giving them the marriage option.

Jordan’s government had backed repeal.

Jordan joins Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt, which have cancelled “marry the rapist” clauses over the years.

It was seen as a major victory for women’s rights in the kingdom after years of campaigning by activists.

Despite a pro-Western political orientation outlook and cosmopolitan urban elites, many areas of Jordan remain socially conservative, with entrenched notions of “family honour”.

This includes the belief that having a rape victim in the family is shameful, and that such “shame” can be expunged through marriage.

The decision must still be approved by parliament’s appointed upper house, or Senate, and by King Abdullah II.

International rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Lebanon’s parliament is also considering repealing such a provision.

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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