Artist Mirelle Honein and non-profit Abaad campaigned against Lebanon’s law on rape by hanging wedding dresses on nooses in Beirut
Patrick Baz—AFP/Getty Images
By Tara John
May 4, 2017

On April 23, Jordan’s cabinet revoked a law that allows rapists to avoid jail terms if they marry their victims. Parliament is due to vote on ratifying the change in May, the latest move in the Middle East against similar laws:

THE LOGIC

Between 2010 and 2013, 159 rapists in Jordan took advantage of the law, which was cast as the lesser evil in brutally patriarchal societies. Supporters argued that marriage protected the victims’ reputation and prevented “honor killings.”

REFORMS WON

Public outrage has led to change: Morocco scrapped its version of the law following the suicide of a 16-year-old who was forced to marry her rapist in 2012. In 2016, mass protests led Turkey to withdraw a bill that would pardon men convicted of sex with underage girls if they married.

SLOW CHANGE

At least six countries in the region, including Tunisia, Libya, and Lebanon, retain the loophole, a legacy of the French colonial era. Activists say nations must be pressured to abolish these kinds of patriarchal customs.

This appears in the May 15, 2017 issue of TIME.

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