Noor had no reason to doubt her 55-year-old employer when he told her the pills he was giving her would help her headache. But when she woke up hours later completely naked, she realized he had drugged and raped her.
With rape still carrying a huge social stigma in her home country of Jordan, Noor knew that her family would be devastated.
“I cried and cried, not knowing what to do,” she says.
Noor resolved to keep her rape a secret from her family. But when she missed her period that month, she realized that she was pregnant. It was only when her son was born that Noor found the courage to report the rape.
“I decided to go and file a complaint at the police station. I accused [my employer] of raping me,” she says.
But like many countries in the Middle East and North Africa, there was a loophole in Jordanian law that allowed a rapist to escape punishment by marrying their victim.
“He proposed to marry me under article 308 of the Jordanian Penal Code where the prosecution will be stopped if he does so,” says Noor. “With all the hatred I have in my heart, my family forced me to marry him so as to save the ‘family’s honor.’
“I moved to live with him with all the negative memories of rape and deception. I thought that my life with my baby son might make me happy, but I was very wrong.”
Unable to bear living with her rapist any longer, Noor filed for divorce. She now faces a court battle to ensure her rapist legally recognizes and accepts responsibility for their young son.
“Still to date, I cannot register my baby in his father’s name and my battle to do so still continues,” she says.
Noor is one of the thousands of women worldwide who have been forced to marry the men who raped them, due to laws that protect perpetrators through marriage.
However, tireless campaigning by Equality Now has led to many countries changing their laws – including Jordan, whose government voted to repeal Article 308 in August 2017, as well as Tunisia, Palestine, and Lebanon.
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