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Proposed domestic violence bill prompts rare criticism of Al-Azhar sheikh

Remarks by a prominent cleric saying it is permissible to hit a spouse "to preserve the family" has sparked backlash against Al-Azhar.
Egyptian Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb speaks during an interview with a journalist, June 9, 2015, in Florence.

The Egyptian parliament is currently reviewing a proposed amendment to Article 242 of Penal Code No. 58 of 1937, stipulating harsher punishment for domestic abuse and violence. If approved by the House of Representatives, an abusive husband may face a jail sentence of up to five years and a minimum of three years instead of the current maximum one-year sentence.   

The amendment put forward by Amal Salama, a member of parliament's Media Committee, aims to curb the high divorce rates in the country. According to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics, a total of 213,000 divorces were registered in Egypt in 2020, with one divorce case happening every two minutes. The previous year witnessed even higher divorce rates, with a total of 226,000 registered cases.  

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