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“Jordan’s parliament has repealed a provision in its penal code that allowed a rapist to escape punishment if he married his victim, the AP reports. Cheers erupted from the spectators’ gallery as legislators narrowly voted on Tuesday to scrap controversial Article 308. The vote came after an emotional debate in which some lawmakers 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.” (iFeminists)
According to the NY Times in “Lebanon gruesome billboards of a woman in a bloodied and torn bridal gown appeared around Beirut recently, captioned in Arabic: “A white dress doesn’t cover up rape.” This spring, a women’s rights group, Abaad, hung similarly defiled gowns along the city’s famous seaside promenade.
“Such provocative public awareness campaigns are part of a new push in Lebanon and across the Middle East to repeal longstanding laws that allow rapists to avoid criminal prosecution if they marry their victims. The laws were built around patriarchal attitudes that link a family’s honor directly to a woman’s chastity; the marriage option is aimed at shielding the victim’s family from “the scandal,” as one victim’s brother put it in an interview.”
Human Rights Watch indicates that the Lebanese Parliament and Prime Minister are in agreement to repeal the Marry-your-rapist Law. However, “Countries in the region that retain such provisions include Algeria, Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Palestine, Syria, and Tunisia.” Not only Middle Eastern countries used to have such laws. In the last 30 years the following countries have repealed them: “Costa Rica (2007), Uruguay (2006), Romania (2000), Peru (1998), France (1994), and Italy (1981).”
Examples of women, generally minors who get pregnant after being raped, being forced to marry their rapists are reported in the media for instance in religious communities in the US, another case reported in Florida. In this way the offender escapes punishment and the victim continues to receive sexual and physical abuse for the rest of her life.
Women’s movements who dare challenge such well established patriarchal practices are fighting against a basic form of violence and deserve all our support.