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Cabinet approves amended Penal Code scrapping Article 308

Under bill, rapists are to serve their sentences; tougher penalties decided on other crimes

By JT - Apr 23,2017 - Last updated at Apr 23,2017

In this undated file photo, young women protest against Article 308 of the Penal Code. The placard says: ‘Rape and marry for free’ (File photo)

AMMAN — The Cabinet on Sunday scrapped a controversial legal provision that pardons rapists if they marry their victims.

The removal of Article 308 of the Penal Code, a long awaited move by women activists and rights groups, was part of amendments the government introduced to the code in response to recommendations by a Royal panel concerned with judicial reform. 

The change came as part of a draft law amending the Penal Code for 2017, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

In its current form, Article 308 of the Penal Code states that rapists are spared from punishment or legal prosecution if they marry their victims and stay with them for five years. 

Under the Penal Code, sexual intercourse with women aged 15 to 18 is considered rape.

Lawyers, journalists, activists, and Muslim and Christian scholars have repeatedly called for eliminating Article 308 and adopting better psychological and legal measures to protect victims of rape and molestation in Jordan.

Supporters of the article claim that “it is meant to protect the honour and reputation of the victim”.

In December, HRH Princess Basma urged the local media to raise the level of debate on the controversial Article 308, saying “it is the role of the media to build a unified stand against it and to raise the level of debate to make it a public opinion issue”. 

The amending draft law endorsed Sunday aims to enhance the rule of law, in a way that punishes any person who violates the law with the suitable penalties, Petra said. 

It seeks to toughen penalties in the cases of abusing public funds, assaulting public employees, festive firing and destroying vehicles.

It also stipulates more severe punishments against sports hooliganism, forging official documents, violations against water sources and attacks targeting worshipping places.


The amendment also seeks to enhance the legal protection of women, children and persons with disabilities in crimes committed against them.     

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