In Egypt, 2008 can easily be labeled the woman’s year. In addition to numerous new legislations championing women’s rights, 2008 saw the first female marriage registrar, the first female village mayor and the first sexual harassment case brought to court by a young woman.
Some Egyptian men must be crying right now.
Israa Abdel Fattah became the face of a young generation adamant on making a difference. After creating a group on the social online sharing website Facebook calling for a nationwide strike on April 6 to protest the increasing prices, the 27-year-old found herself in prison and became an unwilling cause célèbre.
Jailed for creating a facebook group? The Egyptian government is scared of a website.
Last October, Noha Roushdy, a filmmaker in her late 20s, won the first sexual harassment case taken to an Egyptian criminal court, and more surprisingly, the sentence was handed out in the first hearing.
Sherif Gomaa Gibrial, an Egyptian driver, was sentenced to three years imprisonment and fined LE 5,001 on charges of sexual assault.
Alhamdulillah for this! Now on to the rest of the Arab world especially Saudi Arabia. True story: my mother-in-law was “hit on” by some young Saudi boys. They threw pieces of paper at her which had some numbers on it. I’m assuming it was their numbers and they wanted the woman to call. What sick about all this is that they couldn’t tell that she was older and could be their mother.
Days after Roushdy’s victorious verdict, Egypt’s first female marriage registrar started her new job despite complaints by some conservative clerics that the move contradicts Islamic teachings.
During her first day on the job, 34-year-old Amal Suleiman Afifi married a couple in a mosque in the Delta town of Zaqaziq.
Many conservative clerics believe Sharia prohibits a woman from becoming a registrar because it states the testimony of two women is equivalent to one man in court. Therefore they believe a marriage contract signed by a woman would be illegal. More liberal minded clerics believe a marriage registrar is an official who purely plays an administrative role for the state, and therefore her signature on the contract does not violate Sharia.
I don’t know about this. Does she do the khutbah too?
Also one month before the end of 2008, last December, 53-year-old Eva Habil, a 53-year-old Coptic lawyer, beat five male candidates, including her younger brother, to become Egypt’s first female mayor of the predominantly Coptic Christian town of Komboha in southern Egypt.
Man, her younger brother must feel like a real loser.
On the legislative front, women are theoretically the winners of the 2008 legal battles. They were given the right to register their children, whether through marriage or not, without the father’s consent. Obtaining a birth certificate is imperative in acquiring public education and health care to citizens. The age of marriage for women was also raised from 16 to 18.
The most important legislation was criminalizing female genital mutilation (FGM). Yet, opposition to this law was taken to court, where infamous hardliner Sheikh Youssef Al-Badry is suing Health Minister Hatem El Gabaly for outlawing the practice.
Why raise it to 18? Sixteen year olds in America probably already have 1-2 “husbands” already. Shaykh Youssef Al-badry needs to sue the government for arresting people for praying fajr instead of suing the Health Minister.
Now when will Egyptian government stop hoarding all the U.S. aid (3rd most in the world, 1st is Iraq, 2nd is Israel) to themselves and start trinkling it down to the people.