UPDATE: On 25 March 2018, the President’s decision to repeal Article 308 by Executive Order was published in the Palestinian Official Gazette. This is a great step towards equality and securing the dignity and rights of women and girls.
In advance of International Women’s Day and the Prime Minister’s announcement of the Cabinet’s proposal for the repeal of Article 308, Equality Now’s partner, Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling (WCLAC) organized a seminar with civil society organizations calling on the Government of Palestine to respect and enforce Article 9 of the Basic law 2003 that guarantees full equality between men and women in all spheres of life. This would include repealing Article 308 of the Penal Code.
In October 2017, WCLAC, Equality Now, and the Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations against Domestic Violence against Women (Al Muntada) submitted a joint report on Palestine for consideration during the 68th session of UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (the CEDAW Committee), highlighting various discriminatory provisions in the Family Status law and the Penal Code, including Article 308. In its replies to the Committee, in February 2018, Palestine stated that it was working on repealing Article 308 among other articles in the Penal Code.
Article 308. Halting prosecution and Resumption of the right to prosecute.
(1) Legal proceedings shall be stopped against the perpetrator of one of the crimes included in this chapter [including rape, kidnapping and statutory rape] if a valid marriage is contracted between the offender and his victim. If a sentence has been passed in the case, the sentence against the convicted person shall be suspended. (2) If the marriage ends in the woman being divorced for no legitimate reason, the Public Prosecutor shall re-assume the right to prosecute the case and to execute the sentence within three years after the time the crime was committed in the case of a misdemeanor and five years in the case of a felony.
Article 308 of the Palestinian Penal Code No. 16 of 1961 exempts a perpetrator of rape, kidnapping and statutory rape from prosecution and punishment if he marries his victim.
Article 9 of the Basic Law 2003: Palestinians are equal before the law and the judiciary, without discrimination by reason of race, sex, colour, religion, political views or disability.