Women's Rights Stall Egypt's Constitutional Draft

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Lawmakers drafting Egypt's new constitution made little headway in clarifying the rights of women, Al-Masry Al-Youm reports, with Islamist parties insisting on the application of Shariah law.  

Representatives of political forces in the Constituent Assembly failed to resolve a dispute over Article 68, related to the equality of men and women.

While representatives of Islamist parties have insisted on preserving “the provisions of Shariah [Islamic] law” in the article, representatives of civil forces have stressed the need to omit the sentence or to completely abolish the article.

However, the Freedom and Justice Party has refused to omit the sentence, since it is mentioned in the constitution of 1971.

In its meeting yesterday [Oct. 31], the party rejected the proposal of Dr. Manar Shorbagy to specify that “Islamic Shariah” would be limited to “personal status and inheritance” laws.

Mohammed el-Sawy, a member of the assembly taking part in the meeting, said that at the end of the meeting, political forces reached an agreement over two new proposals.

The first proposed completely abolishing the article — a proposal that was rejected by Dr. Gamal Gibril and Gaber Nassar, since the article is unique among the world's constitutions and the other articles within the constitution affirm these same rights.

Sawy added that the second proposal suggests keeping the article as it is in the 1971 Constitution, yet adding a new article that specifies the rights that the state guarantees for women, such as the right to education, employment, travel and free movement, as well as the other rights that should to be preserved.

Representatives of these political forces have decided to hold a meeting on Sunday [Nov. 4] to resolve the article and vote on the proposals that they have agreed upon.

On the other hand, Shorbagy submitted a proposal to the drafting committee, which consists of a new text article on slavery and servitude that the commission on rights and freedoms has adopted. 

The text article stipulates that no one shall be held in slavery and servitude, and criminalizes the trafficking of women. Although the drafting committee has amended the text article, it was rejected by a number of members of the assembly, since there is no slavery or human trafficking in Egypt, and therefore it is not worth stipulating for it.

Shorbagy said that although the article is important, it was superseded by another that could be acceptable. The new text prohibits and criminalizes “forced labor, inviolability of the person and sex trafficking.”

She added that she still insists on adding that “harassment is punishable as criminal offense” to the family law article.

She noted that a large number of members refused to add this sentence to the constitutional article, preferring that it be instated as a law. Shorbagy stressed that harassment has become so serious and should be criminalized constitutionally, not just legally.

Found in: islamists in egypt, islamists
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