Aug. 1 (UPI) — Rapists in Jordan could no longer avoid punishment by marrying their victims, under a new measure approved in the country’s Lower House on Tuesday.
Article 308, which dates back to 1960, permitted the pardoning of rapists if they marry their victims and stay with them for at least three years in misdemeanor convictions and five years in criminal crimes.
The actual vote to amend the penal code was not disclosed, according to Jordan’s official news agency. The decision must still be approved by the the Senate, or upper house, and then be signed into law by King Abdullah II, who has endorsed the measure. Jordan’s cabinet supported scrapping the portion of Article 308 in April.
Several hundred activists gathered outside the parliament building Tuesday to call for the provision’s abolishment.
“We are celebrating today,” Salma Nims, secretary-general of the Jordanian National Commission for Women, a semi-governmental organization, told Al Jazeera. “This is a historic moment not only for Jordan, but for the entire region. This achievement is a result of the concerted effort of the civil society, women’s rights and human rights organizations in Jordan.”
Dima Tahboub, a member of Jordan’s Islamist Islah bloc that voted unanimously in favor of annulling the legal loophole, told CNN: “The annulment is in the greatest interest of the Jordanian people and is in harmony with the Islamic Sharia.”
Article 308 originates from a 1911 Ottoman legal code, largely based on the Napoleonic penal code of 1810.
Similar rape-marriage provisions still exist in Algeria, Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Palestine and Syria, as well as several countries in Latin America and Asia, though officeholders in Bahrain and Lebanon are considering their elimination.
Last week, Tunisia abolished a similar clause and recognized domestic violence as a punishable crime. Egypt banned it in 1999 and Morocco in 2014.
Other countries that have recently abolished similar laws include Italy in 1981, France in 1994, Peru in 1998, Romania in 2000, Uruguay in 2006 and Costa Rica in 2007.
“The societal discrimination that comes with the stigma of being raped is where practical practices are needed for women’s protection, especially if they get pregnant,” Amani Rizq, an officer for Swedish gender equality organization Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation in Jordan, told Al Jazeera.