Fury as victim, 14, forced to marry rapist

2012-06-28 09:03

Amman - 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, took her to the desert where he had a pitched a tent and raped her for three consecutive days, judicial sources said.

Police found the girl during a routine patrol, drove her back to her family home and arrested the man.

Within days news emerged that the boy had agreed to marry the girl, while all charges against him have been dropped.

Earlier this month, another girl, aged 15, was talked into following a young man to an empty apartment in Amman where she was also raped.

Law is 'a crime'
Judicial sources say the young man is now desperately trying to work out an arrangement with her family to marry her, to avoid going to jail.

Article 308 allows rape charges to be dropped if the perpetrator 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, who get punished ... for God knows what," Nadia Shamrukh, head of the Jordanian Women's Union, said.

"By applying this law, another crime is committed. How can this 14-year-old girl, who is a minor anyway, marry her rapist? Can you imagine this?"

The rape of a child under the age of 15 is punishable by death in Jordan, which recorded 379 cases of rape in 2010, according to court documents.

"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 Eva Abu Halaweh, a lawyer and human rights activist who heads law group Mizan.

Different interpretations

"But the girl's father struck a deal with the unemployed rapist, who was already married to another woman and had six children. He was unable to provide for his family and his wife was a beggar."

Abu Halaweh 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.

"Even if the victim does not resist marrying her rapist, he should not walk free ... The penalty could be reduced."

But Israa Tawalbeh, the country's first woman coroner, sees "nothing wrong in Article 308 as such".

"The problem is how some local and international human rights groups interpret the law," she said.

"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."

Tawalbeh said the law "solves problems for some".

Honour killings

"Accepting marriage under Article 308 is better than leaving girls to be killed by their parents or relatives," she said.

"I think the law fits our society and reality. It protects the girls by forcing attackers to marry them."

In Jordan, between 15 and 20 women are murdered annually in the name of "honour" and at least six such killings have been reported so far this year, according to authorities.

Murder is punishable by death, but in "honour killings", courts sometimes commute or reduce sentences.

But Hani Jahshan, who is a forensic pathologist and physician at the health ministry and the Family Protection Directorate, has a quite different view of Article 308.

"This law is a stark violation of rights of women and children," he said "Sexual violence has a deep impact on victims that could last for a long time, and if a raped girl marries her rapist, her suffering will only be aggravated."


Jahshan blamed social misconceptions.

"Society believes that a female's virginity must be preserved until marriage. This forces girls to marry their rapists in order to protect her reputation and avoid social problems," he said.

Jordanians, particularly women activists, have held several street protests against the law.

"This issue must be effectively addressed," Nadia Hashem Alul, Jordan's first state minister for women's affairs, said. "I think Article 308 should be amended to ensure justice to rape victims."

  • thadelphukem.completely - 2012-06-28 09:17

    This makes me sick to the core of my being... It just goes beyond any reasoning that these victims can then be raped over and over for at least 5 years in the name of marriage before the perpetrators may decide to divorce them... This is sad and disgusting beyond words!!!

      Press - 2012-06-28 09:31

      Wonder what our South African Muslims think about role of religion in this matter, dont see any open condemnations from any local person in this religious group - hard to think none of them are blogging . . . .

      jowza1 - 2012-06-28 09:46

      press.this is a cultural has noting to do with religion

      Michaele - 2012-06-28 09:53

      @jowza [boso] 1 How can you make such a unephathetic statement. How the hell would you feel if this was your daughter. Cultural thing my ass...this is barbaric to say the least, it is the lowest of lows that can ever be dished up to any women, irrespective of her position in society. You disgust me beyond words.............

      jowza1 - 2012-06-28 10:02

      where exactly did i say that this act isnot barbaric,michaele.

      jowza1 - 2012-06-28 10:05 you always call people names when you comment

      jaco.faling - 2012-06-28 10:23

      At first the law just seems absurdly sick and wrong. Then comes the coroner's explanation to defend the law, saying it is put in place so that girls don't get murdered by their own family, that you realise how rotten to the core the society is when it comes to woman. I've been to Amman and people there seems friendly enough but this I did not expect from them.

      Press - 2012-06-28 11:11

      @jowza1 - so the question then is - does the muslim religion condemn this horrid cultural practise or are muslim societies where this culural practise is condoned (even in law) simply acting against their religious beliefs and why are the religious leaders unsucsessful in eradicating this scourge from their societies ?

      neelofar.spleenkarimi - 2012-06-29 23:08

      Jowza is absolutely right, this is a cultural thing, not a religious one. If you say that this is a religious conflict, then you are saying that all Muslims practice this and that is taught in Islam, which is completely wrong. This is a disgusting practice and those who believe in it will hopefully get what they deserve. I think many women would rather die than to live with the people who ruined her life.

  • susan.paul.330 - 2012-06-28 09:19

    Rape seems to be a global problem...

      Nicholas - 2012-06-28 09:26

      This is not just about rape, its about the man being allowed to marry her (14 years old) to avoid going to jail. It opens a new level of madness and barbarism that is beyond any civilized persons' understanding. Is this what Islam condones?

  • hayley.fredericks.9 - 2012-06-28 09:20

    So basically in a nut shell: A man can rape a girl, marry her, not be charged, continue to rape her for 5 years whilst "married" because he can, then divorce her and walk free. OR. He can be arrested and she can be killed in the name of "honor"... WOW. Nice laws..

  • erich.goosen - 2012-06-28 09:27

    I would feel much better if the 'silent majority of SA Muslims' would also come to the fore to condemn these barbaric and cruel practice. Your intolerance with matters such as this would be acceptable to infidels such as me.

      jowza1 - 2012-06-28 09:49

      i agree that this practice is barbaric.dont confuse culture with religion.the muslims in this country are not from Jordan and we are not arabs

      aadil.esack - 2012-06-28 11:26

      This is often the problem jowza1, people are always confusing CULTURE & RELIGION ! Even our very own local Muslims. What people don't understand is that you get Muslims of ALL colour's, but they come from different cultural backrounds - i absolutely HATE when anyone, including our own, bring their CULTURE into the RELIGION ! This is absolutely disgusting Jordan, and because of your dumb a$5 CULTURAL law, you make ALL Muslims of ALL colour's look like we support this. Poor girl ...

  • toofaan.monsoon - 2012-06-28 09:29

    This is what happens when you pervert the words of a holy book and there is no proper seperation of state and religion. What's amazing is that women in these places still defend the outright barbarism that takes place against them daily. Problem is that this type of thinking is rife in the middle east and the way things are going, it's gonna get worse.

  • TheReverendSchizophilioSchadenfreud - 2012-06-28 09:30

    Hey christians, dont get on your high horses, this stuff is in your bible too, Deuteronomy 22:28-29 : "If a man finds a young woman who is a virgin, who is not betrothed, and he seizes her and lies with her, and they are found out, 29 "then the man who lay with her shall give to the young woman's father r fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife s because he has humbled her; he shall not be permitted to divorce her all his days." Outdated bronze age mythology and legend is perverted and sick and has no place in today's world. Atheism is the future.

      Colin - 2012-06-28 09:47

      Actually this to stillewaters, The ReverendSchizopilioSchadenfreud is quite correct. The bible and especially the old testament is full of similar such nonsense that has no place in a civilised society or are you one of those christians who treats the bible like most people treat software agreements - scroll to the bottom and press I agree without reading it

      Stuka - 2012-06-28 10:13

      Yup it's in our Bible, difference is there is no legislation in this country that enforces it and will never be. Christians will never condone any such laws and rules in a modern developed society. The world as a whole except by the looks of it the Middle East has evolved in allot of ways such as human rights for example. We do not know the socio economic reasons for having a rule like that such a long time ago, luckily times has changed. Really atheists should stop taking single verses of the Bible out of context, maybe people will take you seriously then. Just on the subject of atheists being such fantastic people a few of them (Joseph Stalin, Mao Tse-Tung, Pol pot) has in modern times the most amazing human rights record right? It doesn’t matter your race, creed or religion if you are a sicko you’ll find something...some way to have your twisted ways...

      TheReverendSchizophilioSchadenfreud - 2012-06-28 10:24

      Thank you Colin, and how are you this morning?

      Colin - 2012-06-28 10:54

      RevSS (oh dear a most unfortunate abbreviation) doing great - good to see you are on fine form. Now to respond to stuka. Because it is in the bible and christians don't support, don't you think it is time to critically examine the rest of the bible, or don't you believe the bible to be the inerrant word of god? The old testament in particular is a nasty piece of fiction, basically a handbook to committing genocide and is full of 'isolated examples' of unpleasantness. josepth stalin et al did not commit their atrocities because they were athiests - they were just bad people. Whereas numerous atrocities have been committed in the name christianity (crusades, the inquisition, n. ireland and apartheid)

      TheReverendSchizophilioSchadenfreud - 2012-06-28 11:05

      Quite a cheek, saying atheists take single bible verses out of context. Ignoring the nastiest bits as irrelevant, and picking the bits you think are good is far less likely to have people take you seriously than honestly questioning a misogynistic and misanthropic text which is claimed to come from the infallible word of god. @Colin, never thought of the abbreviation, lol, SS stands for Social Security, not SchutzStaffel. As a Subgenius Reverend, I have a sermon/blog I need to write ASAP. Will keep you posted :)

      Colin - 2012-06-28 11:11

      Reason will win over superstitious nonsense in the end

      TheReverendSchizophilioSchadenfreud - 2012-06-28 11:18

      @Colin - we can only hope so. It has been 2000 years of silly superstitious nonsense, so shouldn't be too long now.

  • SunetteFerreira - 2012-06-28 09:33

    This is absolutely sick.

  • Shirley Van Heerden - 2012-06-28 09:35

    Marry her rapist to avoid social scandal?!? Must be joking!!!!! She is the victim- she should have support and empathy. The pig who raped her should live with the scandal. Geez guys, this is attroches

  • abusufyaan.ahmad - 2012-06-28 09:38

    They MAYBE muslims, but it is definitely against Sharia law.

      dewalds3 - 2012-06-28 09:41

      I am actually too afraid to ask - but what would happen under Sharia law?

      alfred.karius - 2012-06-28 14:03

      typical of theists who more often than not, know less about their religion than atheists. Those laws ARE Sharia law. The above old testament quotes which the koran shares prove this. Jordan is not the only country with these sick twisted laws, in fact the only muslim country that I can think of that does not have such laws is Turkey. Not so long ago a teenage rape victim was stoned to death in Saudi Arabia also under shria law. The separation between religion and state is almost no existent in most muslim countries, again Turkey is an exception. Also note the lack of public condemnation from muslims imams and muslim authorities, yet a silly cartoon results in deadly riots and death threats. Well that's religion for you. To believe in it you have to reject rational reason and people that reject rational reason are much more prone to irrational behavior.

  • Ezette - 2012-06-28 09:49

    Penal law. I'll show you PENAL law!

  • lotz.ilse - 2012-06-28 10:03

    ""Accepting marriage under Article 308 is better than leaving girls to be killed by their parents or relatives," she said" -Really? Those are the 2 options for women in this country? IN 2012????

  • Teuneman - 2012-06-28 10:14

    Let the guy go, but cut off his penis first!

  • monty.pulumo - 2012-06-28 10:15

    Disgusting and infuriating to the core...women in this world have a long way to go, who drafts these disgusting laws?? Some kill girls at birth; some rape and abuse them at puberty hiding under the religion umbrella, what is wrong with this world? nxa!

  • DuToitCoetzee - 2012-06-28 10:28

    Well seeing that they not easily going to change the law I suggest they amend it. Force these men to marry elderly(or at least mature) women for a minimum of 10 years without any other women. Knowing women(Ok, not really) they will have hell on earth for that period. This is a disgusting law!

  • vernon - 2012-06-28 10:35

    Like all these people ,1000 years in the past and no hope.

  • mtho.maseko - 2012-06-28 10:37

    U cannot allow someone to merry a rapist or theaf

  • Nyiks11 - 2012-06-28 10:38

    I see Jordan being the new preferred destination for many would be rapists

  • suzette.engelbrecht - 2012-06-28 10:56

    the worst of this whole thing is the sentence "HE cannot divorce her for 5 years" in other words she can NEVER divorce him???

  • carla.matheson.758 - 2012-06-28 11:02

    This is disgusting, and un-Islamic. I am a muslim, and this is Haraam. A girl cannot be forced to marry anyone she does not wish to be married to. There must be mutual consent from the female and male. That is Shariah. What these families are doing to these girls is sick. It is not representative of the laws of Islam. It is a law suited to customs and conformities of people who disregard womens rights in general.

  • ejanette.joubert - 2012-06-28 11:35

    How short people's memories are - just three months ago there was a story from Morocco about a girl who committed suicide by drinking rat poison after being forced by her family to marry her rapist. So the statute is on the books not only in Jordan - how many other countries? The lawyers argument that the law helps those young couples that want to marry against their parents' wishes - the important word there is CONSENT. As one commentator said above - this is against sharia, and it should be a universal principle - no woman should be forced to marry against her wishes, in ANY circumstances, with or without rape - the rape should be seen as an aggravating circumstance, which should speak AGAINST allowing such a marriage. Did you notice that in Jordan the rape of anyone under 15 carries the death penalty - this criminal rapist is now trying to save his pathetic life, and his society is sympathetic, irrespective of the feelings of the victim. Tells you something about their priorities ...

  • michael.moets - 2012-06-28 11:50

    Sounds like a great law

  • tina.loving.9 - 2012-06-28 22:13

    Don't kid yourselves; christians would allow the exact same thing to happen if society would allow it. Keep in mind that biblegod had no problem with rape.

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