Egypt: Judge threatens women’s rights

Source: SIAWI (Secularism is a Women’s Issue)

A coalition of NGOs protested against threats against women’s rights in Egypt, made under the pretext that alleged “human rights” were in fact a throwback from Suzan Mubarak, deposed president Hosni Mubarak’s wife, and that the country should get rid of everything related to the toppled regime.

The coalition’s statement, published last week, reads as follows:

The NGOs signing below express their worry and extreme anger because of the Personal Status Law decree project that counselor Abdallah El Baga, president of the Family Appeal Court, presented under title “number 25 January” for year 2011 to Prime Minister, Essam Sharaf.

The project includes seven articles. El Baga demands in the first one the cancellation of El Khol’ [a cosmetic used to outline the eyes that dates back to Ancient Egypt]. In the third article he demands that a mother’s custody would end when the male child reaches 7 years old and female child reaches 10 years old.

In article four he demands that the father has sole educational guardianship. In article five, he talks about enforcing wife obedience by coercive force […] in addition to the cessation of her alimony […].

The NGOs signing below announce their total refusal to such a discourse which represents a downfall to the rights and benefits that the Egyptian family has gained; that doesn’t only waste the dignity of women but also the best interest of the children, and also contradicts the divine legislation and different Human Rights agreements that Egypt has ratified.

We also refuse the issuing of any decree laws of interest to the Egyptians in general and specifically the personal status law within the security and legislative absence and ministerial instability that the country is facing in this stage, bearing in mind that unlike what some people claim, all the family laws that have been issued in the recent period were never for the comfort of Susan Mubarak or her National Council, but for the societal needs that were translated into reality by long struggles of the organizations concerned with families and specifically women.

We also need to point out that there are a lot of alternative visions that seeks for achieving equality, justice and dignity within the Egyptian family, through tying different responsibilities and rights within the frame of the best interest of all parties highlighting the best interest of the child. Nevertheless, all these visions must be put to the largest societal discussions taking into consideration that any changes to the personal status law must come forth through an inclusive vision that take into consideration the major socio-economic developments that have taken place since the issuing of the personal status law at the beginning of the last century; and with consideration to the supreme principles of Islamic Shari’a that achieve justice, equity and equality to all family members.

Accordingly, the NGOs signing this statement demands from Dr. Essam Sharaf’s government not to fall under the pressures that seeks to use the democratic atmosphere that the revolution has created to try and pass laws contrary to justice and equality.

The Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement.

The Women Arab Alliance

Nazra for Feminist Studies

New Woman foundation

Woman and Memory Forum

Egyptian Foundation for Family Development

Center of Egyptian Woman Legal assistance

Appropriate Communication Techniques for Development (ACT)

Cairo Center for Development