‘Marry Your Rapist’ Laws Still on the Books in Middle East

forced to marry rapist

Marry your rapist.

What to do with a rapist… especially a child rapist? In the good old days they were simply executed. But that was before America became “civilized” regarding the proper disposition of some of the more vile and violent that walk among us.

But unlike a number of predominantly Muslim nations, at least we don’t give any given rapist the opportunity to get away with their crime by simply marrying their victim(s).

While civil libertarians, women’s rights groups and victim’s advocacy organizations here in the West have long accused the Muslim World of treating women little better than livestock or beasts of burden, at least a handful have technically dropped the “marry your rapist” get out of jail free card from their respective criminal codes.

As covered by Elspeth Dehnert of the women-centered News Deeply portal, the Muslim nations of Jordan, Lebanon and Tunisia have stricken all the marry your rapist provisions from their secular law canons;

Jordan’s lower house of Parliament voted to repeal Article 308. Two weeks later, Lebanon abolished its own “marry-your-rapist” law, Article 522. In July, Tunisia had done the same by repealing Article 227.

As reporter Dehnert cited, the change in the rape laws in Jordan just may have come too late for a girl Dehnert referred to as “Aya” to protect her identity, as well as any future acts of violent retribution that is, unfortunately, the norm in many Muslim majority nations;

When Aya was 15, she was forced to marry the 24-year-old man who had raped her.

Her family agreed to the arrangement so that her rapist could evade jail time, and they could avoid a “scandal.” But after months of further abuse from her husband, Aya had enough. She decided to file for divorce and speak out about her situation.

“I’m a girl who was raped,” she wrote in an anonymous letter to the Jordanian Parliament and local media. “It’s clear to me now that he only wanted the marriage in order to leave prison and get rid of the sentence.”

Aya’s rapist had taken advantage of Article 308, a legal loophole that allowed offenders to be set free if they married their victims.

Three long years later is when the Jordanian lower house of their Parliament finally acted on behalf of the women and girls who have absolutely no say-so when it comes to legitimizing the same criminal who violated them to begin with.

As Dehnert also took note of;

As the laws tumble throughout the region, activists are hoping this forward momentum will pressure other countries to follow in their footsteps.

“Hopefully, this is a domino effect,” Equality Now’s legal equality program manager, Antonia Kirkland, says. “There are some Gulf states, like Bahrain and Kuwait, which have this type of law, and we hope they’ll be next.”

Other nearby countries with “marry-your-rapist” laws include Palestine, Iraq, Syria and Algeria.

But despite the victim-bride *technically* being off the hook from wedding her assailant, Dehnert cites an often deadly Catch-22 the women and girls find themselves in;

“Unfortunately, in practice, it seems like this might still be happening whether or not it’s on the books,” Kirkland says. “Law enforcement or authorities are not going to implement the law if they see that the family wants the girl and the rapist to be married.”

For some families, exposing their daughter’s rape to the public gaze by prosecuting the rapist means risking social shame – a consequence that can sometimes lead to them killing her in the name of family honor. Marriage is the easier, more private solution.

 

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