In a victorious milestone for the women's rights movement in the region, Jordan has finally scrapped a controversial article that exonerates rapists if they marry their victims.
The Associated Press reported that the lower house of Jordan's parliament voted on Tuesday to revoke the controversial Article 308 of the kingdom's penal code, which allowed rapists to escape punishment by marrying their victims.
The long-awaited decision still requires approval by the upper house, which is commonly regarded as a mere formality.
In the conservative Jordanian community, whose tribal nature endorses notions of "family honor," Article 308 encouraged rapists to marry their victims and the latter's families to support the union.
Article 308 was amended earlier this year, narrowing the cases under which a rapist could benefit. But, activists demanded that the article be fully annulled.
New-York based watchdog Human Rights Watch supported the activists' demand, saying that the annulment of Article 308 “would be a positive step to strengthen the rule of law and end impunity for violence against women.”
Prior to the legislative session on Tuesday, tens of activists took a stand outside the parliament to call for the repeal, holding banners that read "Article 308 is a disgrace to the Jordanian justice system" and "Article 308 does not protect honor, it protects the culprit".
Social media efforts paid off
The change came as a result of the combined efforts of several lawyers, journalists, and activists, many of whom took their concerns to social media, where the issue has drawn significant attention.
A historical day for women
Time to stand with victims, rather than protect offenders
Better late than never
An impressive week for women in Jordan
It has been an impressive week for the women's rights movement in Jordan.
On Sunday, Jordanian lawmakers took a major stand against "honor" crimes by amending a controversial article that allowed "honor" criminals to get reduced penalties for their crimes.
The parliament's lower house approved the amendment of Article 98 of the penal code, which allowed judges to pass lenient sentences for crimes committed under the pretext of "defending" the reputation of the family or community in a fit of fury.
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)".
Arab countries should follow suit
Apart from Jordan, Tunisia, Morocco, and Egypt that have previously annulled their “marry the rapist” provisions.
However, women in other countries in the region continue to struggle.
Lebanon's parliament is considering repealing such a provision, found in Article 522 of its penal code.
Late last year, the Parliament’s Administration and Justice Committee confirmed it has decided to abolish Article 522 of the Lebanese penal code which dismisses any rape charges if marriage takes place. However, the parliament has yet to vote on the matter.