Rapist walks free by marrying 14-year-old victim
Rapists can walk free thanks to penal code Article 308, known as the “rape law”. -TNP
Sun, Jul 01, 2012
The New Paper
JORDAN – The ordeal of a 14-year-old girl who was kidnapped and raped repeatedly for three days has infuriated Jordanians, especially when her attacker agreed to marry her to avoid going to jail.
In conservative Muslim societies like Jordan, rapists can walk free thanks to penal code Article 308, known as the “rape law”.
In April, the unidentified girl was shopping in the northern city of Zarqa when a 19-year-old man kidnapped her and took her to the desert where he pitched a tent and raped her for three consecutive days, judicial sources said.
Police found her during a routine patrol, drove her back home and arrested the man.
But within days, news emerged that he had agreed to marry the girl, while all charges against him has been dropped.
Earlier this month, another girl, 15, was talked into following a man into an apartment in Amman where she was also raped, AFP reported.
Judicial sources said the young man is now desperately trying to work out an arrangement with her family to marry her to avoid jail.
Article 308 allows for rape charges to be dropped if the rapist agrees to marry the victim.
He cannot divorce the woman for five years.
“This article of the law not only helps perpetrators walk free, it rewards them by allowing them to marry their victims,” Ms Nadia Shamrukh, head of the Jordanian Women’s Union, said.
‘Rape law is a crime’
“By applying this law, another crime is committed. Howcan this 14-year-old girl, who is a minor anyway, marry her rapist?”
The rape of a child under age 15 is punishable by death in Jordan, which recorded 379 cases of rape in 2010, court documents revealed.
“In one case, we tried so hard to prevent a rapist from marrying an 18-year-old girl who did not want to end up being his wife,” said Ms Eva Abu Halaweh, a lawyer and humanrights activist who heads law group Mizan.
“But the girl’s father struck a deal with the unemployed rapist, who was already married and had six children. He was unable to provide for his family and his wife was a beggar.”
Ms Eva said the law is “inefficient anyway”.
“It should be scrapped. What if a girl gets raped by more than one man? In this case, Article 308 will fail to address the problem,” she said.
But Ms Israa Tawalbeh, the country’s first woman coroner, sees “nothing wrong in Article 308 as such”.
“The problem is how some loca land international human rights groups interpret the law,” she told AFP.
“Actual rape cases are rare in our society.
Sometimes, girls under 18 lose their virginity to force their families to accept marriage to their boyfriends. The law categorises this as rape.”
She said the law “solves problems for some”.
“Accepting marriage under Article 308 is better than leaving girls to be killed by their parents or relatives.
“I think the law fits our society and reality. It protects the girls by forcing attackers to marry them.”
This article was first published in The New Paper.