A man who was found guilty of raping and transmitting AIDS to his 12-year-old daughter has been sentenced to death by Jordan’s Court of Cassation, in a case that has caused outrage across the Hashemite Kingdom. The 51-year-old was found guilty of violating his daughter some 39 times over the past four years. The judgement was presided over by Judge Fawzi Al-Nahar in a public hearing that yesterday sentenced the man to be executed by hanging.
The court had overturned a previous ruling that favoured the father over his daughter, a verdict that caused widespread anger in the country. Witnesses also came forward and testified that the girl had complained of the issue many times. The girl had informed her mother, two of her uncles and her grandfather, two years before the official complaint was made.
The man first raped his daughter when she was 12 year-old, but vowed not to harm her again after he was discovered by his wife. However, a subsequent sexual assault caused mother and daughter to flee and inform the Family Protection Department. A 2015 medical examination of the girl revealed that she had contracted AIDS as a result of the sexual abuse.
The case is the latest in a series of high profile rape cases that have made headlines across the Arab world in recent months, creating widespread revulsion.
Jordan has seen similar cases in recent years. Last October, the Cassation Court sentenced a Jordanian man to death for raping and murdering a seven-year-old Syrian child, after activists demanded that he be punished to the full extent of the law.
Earlier this year, the Jordanian Criminal Information Department and Sisterhood Is Global Institute (SIGI) revealed that sex crimes, including rape, committed by unemployed people have increased by 425 per cent, with 42 incidents last year compared with 8 in the previous year.
Many Middle Eastern states have attempted to tighten the laws surrounding rape in an attempt to limit the abuse of women behind closed doors. Last year, Jordan’s parliament voted to annul a controversial legal article exempting rapists from punishment in the event that they marry the rape victim. Iraq is similarly facing growing pressure from rights’ groups to do away with such legislation.
Earlier this year, Morocco passed a law criminalising abuse against women, including all “acts considered forms of harassment, aggression, sexual exploitation or ill treatment”, but the bill was criticised for failing to mention the problem of marital rape and aspects of the Family Law which sets women at a distinct disadvantage.
Last month, Egypt’s highest religious authority, Al-Azhar University, also issued a statement denouncing sexual abuse against women and calling for anti-harassment laws to be used to punish perpetrators.