When State Surpasses Society!

By Fahed Khitan

تم نشره في Wed 2 August / Aug 2017. 12:00 AM
  • Fahed Khitan

The extraordinary sessions of Parliament have concluded with an exceptionally historic achievement.

Critical amendments to the Penal Code were ratified, chief among was the annulment of the Article 308, which allowed rapists to escape real punishment by marrying their victims.

Additionally, the Parliament also passed amendments which intensifies penalties against crimes spreading at an obvious pace recently. For instance, the amended law thickens penalties against assaulting public servants, celebratory shootouts, armed robbery and auto theft, as well as armed threats.

The entirety of the Parliamentary term was relatively short.

Nonetheless it was packed with legislative achievements and reforms, addressed and passed in record time.

Naturally, some MPs may object the thickening of penalties.

MP Abdul Karim Dughmi, for instance, sees no point in thickening sentences. Of course, he views the subject at hand from a different legal view.

However, there is a growing public concern that these unhealthy infringements against the law and rights, from bullying public servants to sexual abuse, are increasing.

This is one of the reasons why the bulk of public opinion actually went the other way.

Regardless, this session of Parliament was extraordinary, in more ways than one.

The harmony between the legislative and executive bodies of the state, in regards to advancing reforms, was exceptional.

The debate over Article 308 is evidence of the objective hindrances to the underway reforms. On the other hand, it also proofs that reforms are not just a higher directive.

If anything, the dynamics resulting the annulment of the article prove that the process reform entails real engagement between social forces which do not simply follow orders.

There are forces in play; an active engagement between the reformist powers, to build stolid propositions, and the resistance. Sometimes advancements are radical and ground-breaking. In other times, forces need to agree to concessional terms in order to make progress, as gradual as it may be.

The annulment of the Article is only but a step in a long journey for change.

In reality, we will find that overcoming the issue in society is not as easy voting a legal article out in Parliament.

Practically speaking, it is an extremely complex cultural issue, because legislation now surpasses the social reality. It will prove difficult to achieve societal compliance at a time when the state itself is struggling to retain the authority and enforce rule of law.

This is not to say that the annulling the Article was ill-advised, on the contrary. Nor a leap into the unknown.

It is not out of vogue for the state to surpass society in many instances, in order to lead society onwards unto a better horizon, to attain aspirations of reform and modernisation.

These achievements will serve as an invaluable experiment to guide further advancements in other fields where bold steps towards reform need to be taken.

Even though these steps may drive the state into collision with social currents and powers that fear and resist change, we need to understand that resistance to change is inevitable. But then again, so is change!

Change is constant; what we can do, however, is decide which way to go, backwards or forward.

Just one day before the vote, the overall inclination of the House of Representatives was to amend Article 308. Then all of a sudden, the tides changed, and the entirety of the state was suddenly aligned with the inclination to take that whole Article out.

So, this is what happened.

The state, in countries like Jordan, is the leading component of governance.

Hopefully, this harmony will see us through to a better legislation, a better society, and a brighter future for our nation.

This article is an edited translation of the Arabic version, published by AlGhad.