A bill allowing a woman’s father, brother or guardian to sign marriage papers on her behalf or take legal action to annul her marriage has sparked outrage in Egypt.
If approved, the Personal Status Bill would deprive women of their rights to custody of their children and stipulate that a woman must seek the father’s permission before making a legal decision on the children.
It prevents a woman from owning her own house and withdraws her legal protection if a man asks her to leave the house.
It would also give male parents the power to prevent women from traveling and limit a woman’s right to register the birth of her child or obtain a passport for them.
Women would also have less power over decisions about their children’s education or health care.
The bill sparked heated debate with the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights (ECWR) which said even Saudi laws for women are more progressive.
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The ECWR said the law reduces women to “birthing machines” and is based on a strict interpretation of Islam.
Rights groups are calling on the government to reject the proposed amendments on February 23.
Last year, Egypt launched its own MeToo campaign sparked by dozens of rape and sexual assault charges against former student Ahmed Zaki online.
In Egypt, women experience widespread sexual harassment, but they are often treated as perpetrators by the authorities rather than victims, while the real perpetrators often go unpunished.
Women are afraid to speak out because they are regularly accused of “dressing provocatively”.
Over the past summer, justice for the gang rape victim at the luxury Fairmont Nile City hotel in 2014 has become a key part of this MeToo movement.
Egyptian authorities arrested several witnesses to the rape and imprisoned them for five months.