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Law that 'let-off rapists if they married victims' is scrapped


Jordan

Law that 'let-off rapists if they married victims' is scrapped

A law that let rapists off the hook if they married their victims has been scrapped in Jordan, according to human rights groups.

Campaigners say the laws, which still exist in a number of Middle Eastern countries, condemn girls to a lifetime of sexual violence and domestic abuse.

Countries with similar provisions include Lebanon, Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Algeria, Syria and the Palestinian Territories, according to Equality Now.

Tunisia, as recently as last week, Egypt and Morocco have all scrapped similar legislation in recent years.

Morocco overhauled its law in 2014 following the suicide of a 16-year-old girl and the attempted suicide of a 15-year-old who were forced to marry their rapists.

“It is a historical achievement in Jordan today,” said Suad Abu-Dayyeh, Middle East consultant for Equality Now, a global legal advocacy organisation.

“I think it is a really a positive step forward towards ending impunity for sexual assault and ending violence against women, but also (for) improving the rule of law,” Adam Coogle, Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from Jordan.

Jordanian parliamentarian Wafa Bani Mustafa, who has campaigned to end the law, said last week that parents often agreed to such marriages to minimise “family shame”, but she said no girl should be “presented as a gift” to her rapist.

Rights groups said they hoped Lebanon, which is discussing amending or abolishing a similar provision, would follow Jordan’s lead.

“Hopefully this will encourage parliamentarians in Lebanon to revoke it without any exceptions,” said Abu-Dayyeh.

In Lebanon, rights group Abaad has campaigned against the law with billboards of women in bloodied and torn wedding gowns. The caption reads: “A white dress doesn’t cover up rape.”

In April campaigners hung white wedding dresses from nooses on Beirut’s seafront.