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Female MPs, activists urge Arab countries to scrap gender-discriminatory laws

By Hana Namrouqa - Dec 13,2017 - Last updated at Dec 13,2017

AMMAN — Arab parliamentarians and women’s rights activists on Wednesday urged Arab countries to abolish laws that allow sexual assault offenders to avoid punishment for their crimes.

The parliamentarians and activists underlined that several Arab countries, including Jordan, Morocco and Lebanon, recently scrapped provisions in their penal codes that allowed sexual offenders to escape punishment, calling on other countries in the region to follow suit.

They made their remarks during a meeting organised by Equality Now, the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, the coalition of Arab women parliamentarians to combat violence against women and the Arab Women Organisation (AWO).

During the meeting, Minister of Social Development Hala Lattouf highlighted that strong partnership between legislators and activists pave the way for amending and abolishing laws that discriminate against women’s rights.

“Violence against women and girls is neither justifiable nor acceptable and needs to be eliminated by all means, mainly by scrapping pieces of legislation that allow this,” Lattouf said.

She underlined that Jordan has put in place several laws that protect women’s rights, which also seek to economically empower women.

The minister stressed that, just as the legal system protects women, it also seeks to impose punishment on offenders.

Deputy Wafa Bani Mustafa, head of the coalition, said that 13 Arab states are currently members of the coalition, which targets laws that discriminate against women.

“Today’s meeting seeks to focus on laws in the Arab region that allow sexual assault offenders to escape punishment. Progress in this domain has been achieved in Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq and we are hopeful that other countries will follow suit,” Bani Mustafa said.

Based on a recommendation by a Royal committee and the endorsement of the government, the Lower House in August voted to abolish the controversial Article 308 of the Penal Code, which became effective on November 1 after the law was published in the Official Gazette.

“We are hopeful now that Iraq will also do the same as Jordan and other Arab countries and scrap laws that allow sexual assault offenders to avoid punishment,” the MP noted.

Intisar Jabouri, a deputy in the Iraqi parliament, said that efforts are now under way to scrap such articles in the Iraqi penal code.

“We are now gathering momentum to have Article 398 in the Iraqi penal code number 111 abolished,” she told The Jordan Times on the sidelines of the meeting.

Meanwhile, Hasna Mansour from the Westminster Foundation for Democracy said that female parliamentarians and women’s rights activists from Jordan, Bahrain, Iraq and Palestine are attending the meeting to lobby for further actions that ensure the protection of women.

 

“Now we are also pushing Palestine to scrap laws that allow sexual assailants to escape punishment in certain cases,” Mansour told The Jordan Times.

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THIS IS ALL ABOUT TALKING AND MORE TALK ABOUT TALK. THIS TREND WILL GET THE WOMEN OF ARAB WORLD NO WHERE UNTIL THE WOMEN IN THAT REGION COME OUT IN FULL FORCE TO DEMAND GENDER EQUALITY AND FAIRNESS. CAN YOU IMAGINE THE FACT THAT MY WIFE IS JORDANIAN, OUR SON GREW UP JORDAN AND NOW AT THE UNIVERSITY BUT ANY TIME HE IS COMMING BACK ON VACATION, HE HAS TO SPEND AN HOUR AT THE AIRPOT IMMIGRATION JUST TO OBTAIN VISA WHILE ALL THE CHILDREN OF THE MEN MARRIED TO ANY WOMAN FROM ANY WHERE ON THE GLOBE AND AS MANY AS THEY WANT AND ALL CITIZENS AND CARRY JORDANIAN PASSPORTS. IS THERE A LINK BETWEEN THIS POLICY AND THE WAY THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY TREAT THE ARAB WORLD?. PERHARPS, YES BECAUSE THE LEADERS OF THE FREE WORLD KNOWS VERY WELL THAT THE ARAB GOVERNMENTS DOES NOT GIVE A DAM ABOUT THEIR CITIZENS. THIS BANDAGE AND FRAGRANT VIOLATION OF HUMAN AND CIVIL RIGHTS WITH IMPUNITY IS A FRICTION AGAINST ANY TREND TOWARDS CIVILIZATION.

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