Jordanian lawmakers in the lower house of Parliament voted on Tuesday, August 1, to repeal Article 308 of the Penal Code, no longer allowing sexual assault perpetrators to evade punishment for their actions by marrying their victims.
Article 308 of the Penal Code left perpetrators unscathed as long as they married their victims and did not divorce until after three years.
A leading activist in the movement against Article 308, Dima Barakat, stated that marriage, for the victim, is “killing this girl a thousand times a day, at least,” adding that the perpetrator “took away her dignity, her honor, and took away her life.”
Because some places in Jordan still remain socially conservative, some lawmakers argued that the article actually protects victims from the social stigma that victims and their families face, isolating them from the community. “Family honor” is deeply engrained within the culture that victims, who are usually girls between ages 15 and 18, often choose to go along with marriage to their perpetrators to expel the “shame” that comes with being a rape victim.
However, lawmakers decided to vote alongside the recommendations of the government and a royal committee to scrap the amendment in its entirety, according to a press release from the Human Rights Watch.
This repeal of Article 308 works alongside a prior vote on an amendment that took place earlier this week that no longer allowed honor killings done “in a fit of rage,” stated an Associated Press report. These two actions together shut down loopholes for sexual assault perpetrators and rapists to get away with their actions of killing and rape.
With the passage of the repeal in the lower house, Article 308 waits to go through the upper house and ultimately, to be approved by King Abdullah II.
“This is a victory for the women’s movement and human rights movement in Jordan," stated Salma Nims, the secretary general of the Jordanian National Commission for Women.