Jordan votes to abolish law allowing rapists to escape punishment by marrying their victims

Vote on Article 308 by lower house of parliament needs confirmation from upper chamber and King Abdullah II

Women’s rights campaigners calling for similar move in Lebanon

Responding to news that Jordan’s lower house of parliament has voted to abolish Article 308 of the penal code which allowed perpetrators of sexual violence to escape punishment by marrying their victim, Samah Hadid, Director of Campaigns for the Middle East at Amnesty International, said:

“The vote to abolish this repugnant law is a long overdue step in the right direction for the Kingdom of Jordan. 

“We now urge the parliament’s upper house and King Abdullah II to immediately approve the vote and confirm the country’s commitment to gender equality. 

“While this offers a much-needed glimmer of hope for women’s rights in the region, there is still a long way to go. Other countries must immediately follow suit and abolish these absurd laws.

“The Lebanese government will soon be voting to abolish its own version of the law, article 522. We urge Lebanese lawmakers to make the right choice.”

Women's rights groups in Lebanon continue to campaign to abolish article 522 which absolves offenders of crimes such as rape, kidnapping and statutory rape of the crime if they marry their victim. 

Jordan’s Article 308 states that charges of rape could be dropped if a valid marriage contract between the rapist and his victim is presented and the marriage had lasted at least three years. Today’s vote came after intense campaigning by Jordanian women’s rights activists and civil society. After final approval, Jordan would join Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt all of which have abolished similar articles in their penal code.

Article 98

On 20 July, women's rights activists in Jordan also celebrated the amendment of Article 98 which no longer grants leniency to perpetrators of “honor crimes” due to “mitigating circumstances”. 

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