Jordan's lawmakers voted on Sunday in favor of amending a controversial article that allowed "honor" criminals to get reduced penalties for their crimes.
State agency Petra reported that the majority of deputies in the parliament's lower house approved the amendment of Article 98 of the penal code, which considered "severe anger" as a mitigating circumstance for "honor crimes".
The amendment still requires approval from the upper house, which is commonly regarded as a mere formality.
Before the amendment, Article 98 of the Jordanian penal code stipulated that those who commit "honor crimes" can benefit from reduced sentences if they were in a "state of great fury resulting from an unlawful and dangerous act on the part of the victim".
The article thus allowed judges to impose lenient sentences for crimes committed under the pretext of "defending" the reputation of the family or community in a fit of fury.
Some killers were sentenced to as little as six months in prison, according to The New Arab.
The new amendment no longer considers severe anger as a mitigating circumstance for those who commit crimes "against a female to preserve the reputation and esteem (honor)".
Sunday's amendment was praised by civil society and human right activists. Women's rights organization, the Sisterhood Is Global Institute (SIGI), commended the move and expressed its hopes that the amendment would provide more protection for women and children.
Minister of Justice Awad Mashagbeh also endorsed the modification, describing the previous version of the article as "unjust to women," according to Jordan Times.
"In some cases, the perpetrator kills his victim for random reasons then proceeds to accuse her of adultery or honor-related accusations," Mashagbeh said.
At least 15 to 20 girls and women in Jordan are burned, beaten, or stabbed to death by family members "because they are seen as having transgressed social codes of 'honor'," according to Human Rights Watch. The country witnessed an increase in such killings in 2016.
"My life is more important than the family's honor."
The parliament passed several additional amendments during Sunday's legislative session, including an amendment to Article 62, giving women the equal right to give consent on their children's surgeries and medical treatments.
More work needs to be done
Activists are still rallying for the annulment of Article 308, which enables a rapist to escape punishment if he marries his victim.
Lawmakers postponed the long-awaited discussion of the article and are expected to vote on it later this week.
Article 308 was amended earlier this year, narrowing the cases under which a rapist could benefit from the article. But, activists are now demanding that the article be fully annulled.