Women´s Rights in Egypt (GateStone Institute) by Anna Mahjar-Barducci 05/03/12)
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"This is why women´s rights should be codified. Governments should be
held responsible for treating men and women equally."
Islamist Members of Parliament in Egypt are trying to deprive
Egyptian women of their basic rights by introducing several
controversial draft laws that, if passed, will bring Egypt back to
the Middle Ages:
-- The website Ahram Online reports that Islamists wants to cancel
Law 1 of the year 2000, known as the Khula Law, which acts as an
alternative route for women whose husbands refuse to grant them a
divorce. Through the Khula Law, courts grant women a divorce so long
as they return the dowry paid by her husband prior to the marriage.
Law 1 of the year 2000 was considered a step forward in women rights.
Before that, Egyptian women did not have the right to divorce their
husbands on their own terms.
Khula Law´s opponents argue that a woman should not be able to ask
for divorce, as it is against Islamic Sharia law. As reported by the
news agency AINA, the Islamist lawmaker and main Khula Law´s
opponent, Mohamed El-Omda, has argued that the process is an offense
to the Sharia and that is a poorly hidden attempt to Westernize Egypt.
-- According to media reports, Islamist parties are also preparing a
draft law for early marriage that would permit girls to get married
at the age of 14 instead of 18. As reported by Ahram Online, in the
past few months, Salafist MPs have argued that there should be no
minimum age for marriage for either sex, explaining that in the
Sharia Law, an age for marriage is not specified.
Women activists are trying to campaign against this draft. "A license
to drive, and to even vote, requires you to be 18 years old or older.
Are those things more important than being a parent and forming a
family?" said Azza Soliman, a legal assistant at the Centre for
Egyptian Women. As reported by Ahram Online, she added she believes
it is wrong to set the age of marriage below 18, or even "12, as some
-- A controversial statement was instead made by Azza El Garf, a
woman and a parliamentarian belonging to the Freedom and Justice
Party, the political wing of the ruling Islamist group the Muslim
Brotherhood ruling . Al-Garf clearly points out that she disagrees
with the Egypt´s 2008 ban on genital mutilation, to which she
referred as a barbaric practice as beautification plastic surgery.
- Egyptian media recently reported about a draft law that would allow
a husband to have sex with his dead wife within six hours after her
death. Members of the Egyptian parliament said that the draft does
not exist and that it was a story made up by the media. However, as
reported by Al-Arabiya, the "Farewell Intercourse" is not a new
proposal. Last year, a Moroccan cleric, Zamzami Abdul Bari, was the
first to state that a husband could have sex with his dead wife. The
Moroccan cleric argued that marriage remains valid even after death
adding, perhaps implausibly, that a woman can also engage in sex with
her dead husband.
-- Ahram Online also reports that Islamists have called for
cancelling the implementation of CEDAW (the Convention on the
Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women), adopted in
1979 by the UN General Assembly; they alleged that "it contains
articles that contradict Islamic Sharia."
Egypt´s National Council for Women is campaigning against the above
mentioned Islamist initiatives that are targeting women rights,
saying that "marginalizing and undermining the status of women would
negatively affect the country´s human development."
Amal Al-Malki, a Qatari author, has been arguing on Arabic Al-Jazeera
that the Arab Spring has so far failed women in their struggle for
equality: "We have no voice. We have no visibility... And I am
telling you, this is why women´s rights should be codified; they
should not be held hostage in the hands of political leaders who can
change in a second, right? Governments should be held responsible for
treating men and women equally."
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