A series of new laws and court decisions around the world yielded mixed results for the cause of gender equality.
Public discussion of women’s rights in 2017 often focused on high-profile phenomena like the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace, but many of the year’s most notable developments—for better or worse—came in the form of legal changes and court rulings in individual countries.
Here are some of the key decisions made during the year:
Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia: Closing the ‘Marry Your Rapist’ Loophole
Over the course of the year, parliaments in Jordan, Lebanon, and Tunisia all repealed laws that protected rapists from prosecution if they married their victims. While perpetrators had seized on the rule to avoid punishment, families of victims often accepted it to avoid social stigma. Victims themselves typically had little say in the matter.
The repeals were seen as an important step forward in the struggle to combat violence against women, but persistent fears of social exclusion or “honor killings” by their own family members may continue to deter victims from reporting such crimes.
Chile: Ending an Absolute Ban on Abortion
Chilean women’s health advocates won a major victory in August, when the Constitutional Court gave final approval to a new law that ended a blanket ban on abortion. The ban, which dated to the rule of right-wing military dictator Augusto Pinochet, was one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the world, with no exceptions even for rape or serious health concerns. The new law decriminalizes abortion if the life of the…