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Girls & Women

Finally! Jordan Set to Appeal Rape Law Loophole

AP

A global — and maybe unprecedented — movement of female activists are standing up and demanding that their governments protect them from rape.

This week, Jordan became the most recent country to see women demanding the government change a law that allowed rapists to avoid punishment if they married their victims and stayed married to them for at least three years.

The first step toward victory arrived when the cabinet of the country voted to get rid of the law, Article 308 of the Penal Code, following more than a decade of activism by women’s rights groups in the country, according to Al Jazeera

Read More: There’s a Global Rape Epidemic and There Are Few Laws to Prevent It

And Jordan isn’t alone. Women in Lebanon hung wedding dresses from nooses this week to protest that country’s law allowing rapists to marry victims to avoid punishment. Lebanon’s government will vote on May 15 on repealing the law.

In late 2016, the Turkish government withdrew a proposed bill that would have pardoned men convicted of child sexual assault if they married their victims after an outpouring of public rage in the country, including a march that drew thousands of attendees.

And women in India and Bangladesh are protesting marital rape and child marriage laws in those countries that allow men to get away with sexual assault through marriage.

The endorsement of Jordan’s government to repeal the bill follows a recommendation from the country’s legislature in February, which together could signal that the end of the law is nigh, according to the report.

Read More: This Bill Would Pardon Men Accused of Sexual Assault by Allowing Them to Marry Victim

"It's a huge step on the part of the government. It shows commitment. Usually, women's issues in Jordan are shoved to the back, but the government showed some seriousness with this vote. This is a very important and long-awaited step," women's rights activist and writer Rana Husseini told Al Jazeera.

Still, the Parliament will have to vote on the measure and there is no consensus around the issue in the lower chamber, which could lead to months of debate before a vote, according to the report.

"It's not going to be an easy battle,” said Wafaa Bani Mustafa, a member of Parliament. “There are many deputies that are against anything good for women. In their eyes, if a woman is raped, she has no chance of getting married, and ... she will bring dishonour and shame to her family, so it is best for her to marry her rapist."

Read More: After Mass Molestations in India, Women 'Reclaim Narrative' on Social Media

In Jordan as in countries all over the world, there are laws on the books that legalize violence —especially sexual violence —against women, a fact that not only endangers each individual women’s health and happiness but holds back an entire gender’s ability to thrive.

Over a lifetime, one in three women will experience physical or sexual violence. Fixing these laws is the first step toward ending this worldwide abuse of women and girls,and you can help by supporting the Global Citizen and CHIME FOR CHANGE campaign to #LevelTheLaw for girls and women everywhere.