Belady has followed the current debate about the proposed amendments to the Egyptian Personal Status Code, which is planned to be presented to Parliament particularly in the context of obscuring and concealing the bill from the public eye. Within this framework, Belady tackles family guardianship of married women and mothers’ custody of their children, two things that are incompatible with the universal declaration of rights and freedoms and undermine the acquired rights of Egyptian women.
A Bill Containing More Restrictions to Egyptian Women's Rights
The bill allows any male in the woman’s family to annul her marriage contract based on “incompetence”, and since “incompetence” is not accurately defined, the door is left wide open for judges to make their own interpretations.
Worth mentioning is that this Article deprives the woman of her right to choose her husband and marriage contract, regardless of her age or academic profile, allowing her to do so only with the consent of all male family members.
Egytian women have launched a campaign to obtain their own and their children’s guardianship. Mothers have published stories of their children’s lives being in danger should they not receive urgent medical intervention, or cases where a parent’s signature was needed for the child to pursue studies. Instead of facilitating such cases, the bill has severely neglected them without taking into account women’s opinions on their daily lives.
The proposed legislation also deprives the mother of her children’s guardianship in all matters related to education, health, travel, issuing official documents, and so on. For example, the husband can travel with his children without anybody’s permission. On the contrary, the wife is allowed to travel with her children only with written consent from the father or his representative. Belady is concerned that this bill may enforce a guardianship system that eliminates any woman’s independent decision and treats her as a subordinate to male family members
Belady advocates for the non-ratification of the Egyptian Personal Status bill, which only contains more arbitrary judgements to Egyptian women's rights. We perceive that it aims to strip them of the few rights acquired from the previous laws. Belady emphasizes the necessity of conducting comprehensive and urgent reform of the Egyptian legislative framework in order to guarantee women’s natural rights and spare them from the daily suffering that has been imposed on them for decades. Accordingly, it is important to:
- Involve civil society in the bill’s debate to consider its views on the proposed amendments.
- Activate transparency measures and access to information in relation to bills’ introductions.
- Diversify the mechanisms of civil participation, such as the national consultancies, and involve women at all levels.- Respect the international charters, treaties, and conventions that aim to reduce gender gaps and protect women from all forms of violence.
- Further work on establishing total gender equality through development of the legislative and executive content.
- Eliminate the system of males guardianship over women.
- Allow women, as independent and competent humans, to get full custody of their children.
- Completely revise the legislative framework in a gender-sensitive approach. Reform it proportionally with all aspects of women’s lives and their representation across state functions.
- Withdraw the bill from Parliament, as it is unjust to Egyptian women, and revise it to include their full rights.