World News

Jordan repeals 'marry-the-rapist' clause

Posted August 1

Jordan's Parliament has voted to repeal a controversial clause that spares rapists punishment if they marry their victims and stay married for at least three years, according to Jordan's official news agency.

Jordan's cabinet moved to abolish Article 308 in April, receiving the endorsement of King Abdullah. The proposal had been pending ratification by Parliament in a session Tuesday, which one member of the body described to CNN as "chaotic."

The vote count was not disclosed to members of Parliament and the motion was not discussed, Jordanian MP Dima Tahboub told CNN. Tahboub is a member of Jordan's Islamist Islah bloc, which voted unanimously in favor of annulling the legal loophole.

"The annulment is in the greatest interest of the Jordanian people and is in harmony with the Islamic Sharia," Tahboub said.

Article 308 originates from a 1911 Ottoman legal code, largely based on the Napoleonic penal code of 1810, according to the official news agency.

Nine other Arab states have laws that let rapists off the hook on condition that they marry their victims, according to Human Rights Watch. But they are all facing growing pressure from activists to reform.

In December, a Lebanese parliamentary committee announced a plan to abolish Lebanon's version of the law, but the proposal is still making its way through the country's typically sluggish legislative process.

In May of last year, Bahrain's Parliament approved the scrapping of a similar legal provision there, although the cabinet has yet to approve the move.

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