Jordan activists celebrate repeal of ‘marry the rapist’ law
The repeal of a Jordanian law that allowed a rapist to escape prison by marrying his victim was bittersweet news for a Jordanian woman whose daughter was assaulted when she was just 13 years old.
Tuesday’s vote by parliament’s lower house came too late for the hairdresser’s daughter who was coerced into an abusive marriage to her attacker as a condition for getting out of “protective’’ state custody.
Her assailant never served a day in jail.
“Today I’m very happy that this law was cancelled,’’ said the 49-year-old mother of the teen, speaking on condition of anonymity to protect her daughter’s privacy since victims of sexual assault are still widely stigmatized.
“But at the same time, I’m heart-broken,’’ she said in a phone interview. “Where is my daughter’s justice?’’
Women’s rights activists hailed Tuesday’s vote as a major victory after a years-long campaign, but said a long struggle lies ahead.
Despite the country’s pro-Western political orientation and cosmopolitan urban elites, many areas of Jordan remain socially conservative, with entrenched notions of “family honour.’’
This includes the belief that having a rape victim in the family is shameful, and that such “shame’’ can be expunged through marriage.
Tuesday’s decision and another vote earlier this week — to prevent lenient sentences for those who kill in the name of “family honour’’ — must still be approved by parliament’s appointed upper house and by King Abdullah II. Such approval is expected since the royal court and the government backed the reforms.