The country of Jordan is set to outlaw a controversial clause that would abolish a provision that exempts a rapist from punishment if he marries his victim. Jordan’s parliament will hold a special session next week to discuss the issue.
This news comes after a young woman by the name of Fidaa was taken into protective custody after being stabbed seventeen times by her brother who accused her of bringing “shame” to the family after she ran away from her abusive husband who she divorced when she was fifteen years old. The brother was only sentenced to five years in prison for his crime. Fidaa now twenty-five describes what she has had to go through the last ten years; saying “she married a twenty-seven-year-old man, only to be forced into prostitution” and that he (the twenty-seven-year-old man) “threatened to alert her brother to her whereabouts if she refused to work as a prostitute.” Fidda managed to leave her husband with help from the police’s family protection unit. But in January of this year, she was arrested during a police raid of a brothel that she had found refuge in with other women. She was then accused of prostitution which was later cleared but cannot leave detention without a sponsor. Fidda said in an interview with the AP (Associated Press) “If my brothers know about what happened, they will slaughter me,” she could not provide her last name in fear that she might be killed.
Jordanian Judge Jehad al-Duradi, who handles sexual violence cases at Jordan’s main criminal court, said women “often act out of desperation.” He described another case regarding a fifteen-year-old who was raped by her sister’s husband. The judge then approved a marriage with the rapist at the pregnant teen’s request. The rapist who escaped punishment then expelled his new wife on their wedding day from his home, leaving her to fend for herself and her child.
Other provisions include lighter punishment if a man kills his wife or another female relative for allegedly having sex outside marriage and could receive as little as a year in prison if he acts in a “state of great fury resulting from an unlawful and dangerous act” by the victim. Some rapists in Jordan have been jailed for as little as six months for killing a daughter or sister. Jail, forced marriage or the risk of getting killed by family members – these are some of the harsh choices still faced by victims of abuse or sexual violence in Jordan.
The are a number of “assaults going unreported”, said Samar Muhareb, director of a legal aid group; he also says that “communities prefer to handle such crimes in tribal arbitration to avoid public shame.” Legislator Wafa Bani Mustafa said, “If we can change the law so that it’s no longer a solution to get rid of the girl this way, we can encourage families to treat their daughters as victims, not as a source of shame.” She also says that “If we cancel the legal umbrella, society will follow.”
The Miller News Service should note that the “marry the rapist” provision has so far been repealed in only Egypt and Morocco. However, Human Rights Watch says it remains the law in the following countries: Tunisia, Lebanon, Syria, Libya, Kuwait, Iraq, Bahrain, Algeria and the Palestinian territories.
Keep reading the Miller News Service for updates on this developing story.
Source: Associated Press; Human Rights Watch
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