Jor­dan ac­tivists cel­e­brate re­peal of ‘marry the rapist’ law

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - WORLD -

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 proWestern 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.

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