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In historic vote, House abolishes controversial Article 308

By Rana Husseini - Aug 01,2017 - Last updated at Aug 01,2017

Activists stage a sit-in in front of Parliament on Tuesday ahead of a morning session that ended with the Lower House voting to abolish Article 308 of the Penal Code

AMMAN — In a historic vote on Tuesday, the Lower House of Parliament decided to abolish the controversial Article 308 of the Penal Code that allowed sexual assault perpetrators to escape punishment by marrying the victims.

Following a heated 30-minute session and a public vote by members, Speaker of the Lower House Atef Tarawneh declared that Article 308 is voted down.

Tarawneh’s announcement was met with cheers and applause by more than 200 men and women from the local civil movement in Jordan who attended the session to voice their rejection of Article 308.

Prime Minister Hani Mulki had reiterated the government’s stand concerning Article 308 in a brief remark before the voting session commenced.

“We thank everyone who worked on amending Article 308 of the Penal Code because it comes in contravention of our values,” Mulki told the MPs in the session, which was also attended by several members of the Senate which will debate the same article when they convene.

Mulki stressed that the government is committed to abolishing Article 308 in order to protect Jordanian family values.

The draft Penal Code and Article 308 in specific was under the heat at the Lower House of Parliament and within the civil society and government officials with many calling for abolishing it from the Penal Code.

Activists and civil society groups staged a sit-in before the session was to commence on Tuesday morning in front of the Parliament to reiterate their demands for the complete abolition of controversial Article 308.

A Royal committee had suggested abolishing the article in February and the government endorsed the decision shortly afterwards.

However, during two Lower House sessions held on Sunday, several lawmakers suggested amending the article instead of scrapping it altogether and the Legal Committee at the Lower House made three suggestions which included exceptions in incidents of consensual sex and sexual molestation of victims aged between 15 and 18 years old.

A third exception was proposed for anyone who “seduces a virgin over 18 years of age with the promise of marriage and caused her to lose her virginity”.

A handful of deputies spoke during the session including the President of the Legal Committee at the Lower House of Parliament Mustafa Khasawneh, who defended the committee’s decision to allow for exceptions.

“Today we are legally, socially, morally, tribally, and nationally obligated to accept the amendments because this is in favour of women and the family,” Khasawneh argued.

MP Abdul Karim Dughmi, Raed Khazaleh and Mustafa Yaghi expressed their reservations, saying that “the Lower House should adopt the legal committee’s recommendations to preserve the rights of the victims and avoid any further social complications that might take place”.

Meanwhile, Deputy Khamis Atieh and Ahmad Saber called for abolishing Article 308 altogether.

The MPs then engaged in a heated debate on whether to adopt the recommendations or accept the government’s recommendations.

Tarawneh called for a vote and the MPs voted in favour of  rejecting the Lower House’s Legal Committee recommendations and accepting the government’s proposal. 

Several women activists representing 63 local organisations took to social media to organise a campaign lobbying the Lower House to abolish Article 308, rather than adopt any amendments.

They also circulated an electronic petition calling for the cancelation of Article 308, which has so far been signed by over 5,000 people.

Meanwhile, The Senate’s Legal Committee on Tuesday approved the amendments approved by the Lower House to the Penal Code, including the abolishment of Article 308. 

The meeting was attended by Minister of Political and Parliamentary Affairs Musa Maaytah, Minister of Justice Awad Mashagbeh, Head of Legislation and Opinion Bureau Nofan Ajarmeh, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported. 

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I NEVER KNEW THAT MANY JORDANIANS ARE NOT HAPPY ABOUT THIS HORRIBLE TREATMENT OF WOMEN UNTIL NOW SO WHERE HAVE THEY BEEN SINCE THIS BATTLE RAGED ON. AGAIN ITS BETTER TO BE LATE THAN THE LATE NO MATTER HOW LITTLE THIS FIRST BABY STEEP INTO THE 13TH CENTURY. NEVER MIND THE 8 YEARS BEHIND STILL, SLOW AND STEADY WE WILL GET THERE AND THIS IS THE FRUIT OF THE DEDICATION OF A GOOD AND VISIONARY LEADER LIKE HIS MAJESTY. CONGRATULATIONS TO HIS MAJESTY WHO HAS BEEN WORKING ALL THE TIME TO MOVE THINGS ALONG BECAUSE THE STATUS QUO IS UNACCEPTABLE.

AS ONE OF THE WRITERS STATES, " ITS BETTER TO BE LATE THAN THE LATE ". JORDAN IS TOO MODERN AND WELL CIVILIZED TO STOMACH ALL THESE CRAZY AND OLD WORLD ORDERS. THE NEXT THAT I CHALLANGE MY IN LAWS IN JORDAN IS TO TREAT WOMEN AS THEY TREAT MEN WHEN THEY MARRY ANY MAN OF THEIR CHOICE IRRESPECTIVE OF THE NATIONALITY OF THE MAN. DO JORDANIANS ACTUALLY KNOW THAT THE CHILDREN AND HUSBANDS OF JORDANIAN WOMEN MARRIED TO NON JORDANIAN MEN HAVE NO STATUS, NO RIGHTS OF ANY KIND IN JORDAN. THEY CAN NOT GET HEALTH OR LIFE INSURANCES FROM JORDAN, NOT ENTITLED TO ATTEND STATE SCHOOLS, CANNOT STAY IN JORDAN WITHOUT VISAS AND ARE SUBJECT TO ROUTINE POLICE CHECKS AND STUPID DOCTORS VISITS FOR TESTS TO MAKE SURE THAT THEY ARE FIT TO LIVE WITH THEIR FAMILIES IN JORDAN, HARASSED AND HUMILIATED IN JORDAN. SIMULTENOUSLY, THE MEN ENJOY DIFFERENT WIFES AS THEY WISH FROM ANY PART OF THE WORLD AND ALL HAVE CIVIL, HUMAN RIGHTS AND ARE GRANTED CITIZENSHIPS. AND SO ARTICLE 308 IS JUST THE WARM UP TO THE BEGINING OF THE END TO ALL INJUSTICES AGAINST JORDANIAN WOMEN. WHILE WE ALL PRAISE THE LAW MAKERS, WE MUST PAY TRIBUTE TO JORDAN TIMES. IF IT WAS NOT FOR JORDAN TIMES BOLD MOVES TO SPEND ALL THEIR RESOURCES IN EDITORIALS AND CHANCE FOR CONCERND CITIZENS TO SOUND ALARM BELLS, THIS WILL SURELY BE STILL BURRIED UDER THE RUGS AND THE BIG GOES ON. ON BEHALF OF ALL OPEN MINDED JORDANIANS, I SALUTE AND CONGRATULATE THE JORDAN TIMES. ONE DOWN AND MORE TO GO. CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I agree with Debra. I don't know if it's a majority but I do believe it's 40% that's consensual. But either way there's many more old laws that don't belong in modern society that need to be looked at and rid of.

But "honor killing" is still semi-legal in Jordan.
The murderers get minor punishment.

Jordan welcome to the 19th century...better late than never...they've still got a long way to go.

I can understand why Rwan Dajani is very happy and congratulating all Jordanian and Arab ladies for this victory because she knows when a young girl sleeps with a man outside wedlock in countries like Jordan and the girl loses her virginity, the parents will say that she was raped in order to preserve their 'honour'. This is why the courts allow 'victims' to marry their 'rapists' because they know that in the majority of cases it was not rape but consensual sex and they respect the feelings and wishes of the family and girl. If there was a real and genuine rape in Jordan, there is no way that the offender would be let off if he was caught. If the family don't kill him first the state will either jail him for life or he could be executed. I don't think countries should take advice or lessons from the West especially considering Western societies are becoming broken and rapes are common

This is great news. Let's hope the progress continues. The repeal of this law takes Jordan up to around the 13th century in European cultural terms. Only another eight centuries to go until they've caught up to us.

Wooow that is really a great news to start this month with. Thanks for all the people who stood for it and made the effort to have this success. Congratulation s Jordan congratulations Arab ladies.

This is great move. Appreciate all the people who supported this.

This is a GREAT step but I'm hugely embarrassed to see that the Jordanian Parliament has finally passed it and it's 2017, not years or decades earlier. Rape is one of the oldest crimes, dating back to the age of barbarism. Tsk, tsk...

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