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Egypt's next national security threat: All the single ladies?

Egypt's parliamentary National Security Council has identified unmarried women as the country's next big threat.
Girls dressed up in traditional Egyptian clothes from the early 20th century pose for a picture before they get their photos taken on the historical Al-Moez street of Islamic Cairo, Egypt, January 17, 2016.  REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih   - RTX22SIL
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In a first of its kind in the history of the Egyptian parliament, the National Security Council announced May 3 that the "issue of spinsters” constitutes a national security issue that should be confronted. This has left analysts divided, with some arguing that it is a quintessentially social and economic — i.e., not security-related — issue, while others believe it poses a dangerous threat to the national security of the country.

Egypt suffers from a pressing social crisis known as "spinsterism." When a woman passes the age of 30 without getting married, it is viewed negatively by society. In some regions, such as rural villages and in Upper Egypt, the threshold age to qualify as a spinster may be even younger. Gloom reigns behind closed doors in many Egyptian homes whose families have been struck by grief and sadness because of society’s view of the spinster. She is often caught between the pity of her friends and malicious gossip of her enemies. And the older the woman gets, the more anxious her family grows and the more frantic their search for the sought-after husband. With the mediation of friends and family, they offer the girl as a candidate for marriage to a local young man in what is commonly known as a "salon marriage." The more unsuccessful this attempt to seal a marriage is, the worse the girl’s psychological state may be.

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