Egyptian women’s rights groups rise up against oppressive bill

A grassroots feminist movement in Egypt has risen up to protest a “shocking draft law” that would require women to gain the consent of a male guardian to get married or travel abroad.

Lawyer Entissar El-Saeid has argued that the new law ‘calls off the rights women have acquired over decades of fighting’.

The draft personal status bill would require male consent for a woman to get married, register a child’s birth, travel abroad, and would give fathers priority over child custody matters.

According to the bill, it would be a male guardian that would sign the marriage contract, not the wife.

Other controversial amendments include one that would make it necessary for a single mother with guardianship over her children to receive written permission from her ex-husband to travel and for any legal decisions concerning her children. The same restrictions do not apply for men.

A statement signed by over 50 women’s rights organisations condemns the bill for its failure to recognise women’s legal capacity, agency and rights.

The statement demands that any amendments must be in line with the Egyptian Constitution which recognises civil and political equality of all its citizens, and human rights principles.

Nehad Aboul Komsan, chairwoman of Egyptian Centre for Women’s Rights and one of the signatories, claims that these amendments take women back ‘200 years’.

The women’s organisations also call for an amendment to allow women who remarry to maintain custody over their children. Current Egyptian law transfers custody to the children’s’ father or grandmother.

Grassroots activists have taken to Twitter to protest the bill, using the hashtag #الولاية_حقي (#guardianshipismyright) to share their stories of how male guardianship has affected their lives, and share their outrage at this proposed loss of legal agency.

The campaign was launched by the Women and Memory Forum for Women.

 

This article was originally written by Georgie Morley. ‘I’m Georgie and I’m currently studying History at the University of Oxford. I am passionate about social change, particularly intersectional feminism and climate justice, and I enjoy engaging in these issues through volunteering, campaigning and writing.’ Visit her LinkedIn and view her Twitter.

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