The Vanishing Victim: Criminal Law and Gender in Jordan
Publisher: Blackwell Synergy
Publication Date: Jan 2007
Criminal codes in Jordan are markedly gendered. This article analyses how the penalties for rape, domestic violence and honour killings reflect local norms of appropriate gender roles and society's desire to rectify the social standing and ?honour? of a raped woman and her family, rather than to punish the crime. The law allows rapists to escape criminal prosecution if they marry their victims because this is seen to restore the family's honour. Marriage also reduces or eliminates the penalty for murders committed for reasons of ?honour?. Killings are carried out by family members against girls and women who are suspected to have committed a sexual indiscretion. Such crimes often go unreported or masquerade as accidents or suicides. Marital rape also remains legal in Jordan, because it takes place exclusively within the private sphere and therefore does not threaten social order. This article illustrates areas of Jordanian law that continue to disadvantage women by maintaining male privilege and patriarchal structures, including the 'ownership' of women's bodies and sexualities, over the interests of women who are victims of crime.