Women’s rights activists celebrates and applauds as the lower house of Jordan’s parliament voted to abolish article 308. It is a provision in the Jordan judicial system which allowed rapists to escape prison by marrying their victims and stay married to them for at least five years. The activists protested to annul this law carrying banners in front of the Jordan parliament in Amman on Tuesday. Their banners read – “Article 308 is a disgrace in Jordan’s justice for women. It does not protect honor, It protects the culprits”. After the lower house voted for the annulment of this law, the activists hailed it as a “historic decision”.
This law escaping punishment by marrying the victim roots from the social stigma related to rape victims. It is a social taboo that rape dishonors the woman along with her family, but marrying the rapist can protect the family honor. Due to this unfair law, many rape victims in Jordan was forced to marry their culprits and lead a miserable life imposed on by the stigmatized society.Dima Barakat, a leading activist, said that those forcing a girl to marry her rapist “are killing this girl a thousand times a day, at least.” The attacker “took away her dignity, her honor and took away her life,” Barakat said.
Tuesday’s vote to abolish Article 308 of the penal code led to an emotional parliament debate, where some legislators argued that an amended version of article 308 was needed to protect rape victims. They portrayed the marriage option as a way to protect the minority. However, ultimately they voted to abolish it.
Suad Abu-Dayyeh, Middle East consultant for Equality Now, a global legal advocacy organisation, said the vote was “a historic achievement in Jordan today”.
Jordanian parliamentarian Wafa Bani Mustafa, who has campaigned to end the law, said last week that parents often agreed to such marriages to minimise “family shame”, but she said no girl should be “presented as a gift” to her rapist.
The decision is yet to be approved by parliament’s appointed upper house, and by King Abdullah II. When the law is repealed, Jordan will join a growing number of countries that scrapped their “marry the rapist” clause.