Jordan may become the third Middle Eastern country to strike down its “marry the rapist” laws which allow rapists to avoid all penalties if they marry their victims, according to Monday reports.
The Jordanian Parliament is expected to strike down Article 308 in a special session this week, only waiting until now due to the fasting month of Ramadan which ended Saturday, the Associated Press reported. Egypt and Morocco have already struck down similar provisions, but nine other Middle Eastern countries continue to uphold the practice, ABC News reported.
The law exempts rapists from penalties if their victims agree to marry them, and it often works as a protection for the victim as much as the offender, Judge Jehad al-Duradi told the AP.
In Jordan, rape victims are sometimes jailed in the offender’s place for their own protection, as male family members will often kill them because of the shame brought to their families.
“If my brothers know about what happened, they will slaughter me,” one rape victim who had been jailed several times for her own protection told the AP.
“Should I put 20 people in prison for one person’s protection?” senior prison official Sadeq al-Omari told the AP. “The right to life is more important than the right to freedom.”
Al-Duradi told of a 15-year-old girl who was raped and impregnated by her sister’s husband and chose to marry him. A judge approved the marriage, but the man, now unworried by penalties, kicked her out of the house on their wedding night to support herself and the child alone.
“It’s about the patriarchal mentality in a society that never punishes the man or shames him for anything,” lawyer and activist Asma Khader told the AP.
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