A Get-Out-of-Jail-Free Card for Rapists May Be Eliminated

Jordan's Article 308 allows rapists to marry victims to avoid jail time
By Gina Carey,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 24, 2017 1:22 PM CDT
A Get-Out-of-Jail-Free Card for Rapists May Be Eliminated
Jordanians voting for a new parliament under revised rules meant to strengthen political parties -- an election seen as a small step toward democratic reform, Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016.    (AP Photo/Raad Adayleh)

Jordan's Cabinet took the first steps to undo a loophole protecting rapists on Sunday by revoking Article 308, a law that allows the criminals to escape punishment by marrying their victims and staying in that marriage for at least three years. Activists are celebrating this victory, with one calling it "a dream that has come true" when a royal committee recommended such a move two months ago. It still must undergo a vote in Parliament to be passed, reports the BBC. It's not an infrequently invoked loophole, according to government stats cited by the Independent: 159 rapists reportedly used the law to avoid jail between 2010 and 2013, with an average 300 rapes being reported each of those years (activists believe underreporting occurs due to the taboo nature of rape in Jordan).

Supporters of Article 308 say it preserves the honor and reputation of the victim, but critics believe the opposite occurs in most cases. The BBC has one such story, that of Noor, the pseudonym given by a woman who at age 20 was drugged and raped by her employer. She says she reported the rape only after discovering she was pregnant. "With all the hatred I have in my heart, my family forced me to marry him so as to save the 'family's honor,'" she says. They decided to divorce, but she has been unable to register the child in his name, which would allow for the recognition of the child, as she desires. Similar protections for rapists have been abolished in Morocco, Egypt, and Ethiopia, while activists in countries like Lebanon and Bahrain are currently seeking solutions to repeal such laws. (More rape stories.)

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