Before we proceed to talk about the scrapping of the law, here is a brief description of what was attainable under the initial Jordan rape law. Contained in Article 308 of the country’s constitution, was the provision that rapists could avoid a jail term in return for marrying their victim. The law allowed a rapist to escape prosecution if they married their victim, regardless of the age of the victim or lack of consent.
The Jordan rape law also states that the rapist had to be married to their victim for at least three years to avoid a jail term. This law which protected rapists from punishment if they married their victims has been a long debated issue in the country, with many activists and scholars protesting against it.
These activities maintained that such law only trivialized the gravity of the offense, infringed the rights of women and encouraged rape among men. However, its supporters said the law protected a rape victim’s honor and reputation.
Amendment of Jordan Rape Law (Article 308)
Following raging controversy over the marriage loophole for rapists, the law was amended. The amendment allowed for the rapist to marry his victim, only if she was aged between 15 and 18 and the attack was believed to have been consensual. As expected, this also gave room for more arguments regarding the rationale behind the so-called amendment.
Is an attack ever consensual? Like you, other women’s activists, as well as Muslim and Christian scholars criticized the amendment of the law. Amid the uproar caused by amendment of article 308, a royal committee in February suggested the law should be scrapped in its entirety. This was indeed a welcome development among strong activists who were strongly against the law.
Lebanese Demonstrate Against Law
While Jordan’s cabinet took steps towards abolishing the law-Article 308, Lebanese activists followed suit as they took their protest to another level. As a form of demonstration against the rape law, activists in Lebanon had been hanging wedding ceremony clothes alongside Beirut’s well-known sea entrance, in protest against Lebanon’s version of the law.
Like in Jordan, these activists hope the law would be scrapped and also believe the exercise will bring about change in countries like Iraq, the Philippines, and Tunisia, where similar laws exist.
Why Article 308?
Known as a very traditional country, Jordan is a society where public morals forbid sex outside of marriage. Although there is no legal penalty for having premarital sex, there is a seeming pressure on unmarried teens to marry if they are caught having sex, to protect the family’s image.
That said, it is then right to say that Article 308, reconciled with traditional Jordanian morality, where teens would be forced to marry if it was discovered they were having sex. This motive, however, exposes the flaws of the initial law, of which the massive neglect of women’s rights is a major point.
The fact that the law was seen as permitting a sexist morality and dismissed women’s rights and choices, justified the motive behind the massive controversy it brought about.
But with the scrapping of article 308, rape victims can press charges against perpetrators of the act without fear of losing the case, over the initial law which trivialized the crime.