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15 Egyptian laws, rulings that protect, support, empower women

Sun, Mar. 3, 2019
CAIRO – 3 March 2019: Two main legislative documents protect, support and empower women in Egypt: The Egyptian constitution of 2014 and the Criminal Code of 1937 and its amendments.

These legislative pieces divide crimes against women in Egypt to two separate groups: Misdemeanors and felonies. Misdemeanors, such as catcalling or sexual harassment, are seen as less significant crimes than felonies, and are usually punished by fines and short-term jail time; the trails are also shortened. Felonies, like FGM, rape, kidnapping a female, or sexual assault, are punished by longer jail time, and a permanent record is placed for those convicted.

In celebration of the Month of Women, March, Egypt Today looks at the top 15 rulings and laws that protect women.

Sexual assault

According to the Criminal Chamber of the Court of Cassation in Ruling No. 289 of April 24, 1950, there is no need to prove that the offender had complete sexual intercourse with the victim against the victim’s will. It is sufficient for the offender to touch the victim with their hands, reproductive organs, or device against the victim’s will. To ensure justice, Ruling No. 4794 of February 14, 1985, was amended to add that the assailant must have had mental intent, meaning that it was not accidental. Law No. 11 of 2011 was later added to increase the penalty against attackers of children under the age of 18, under article 269 of the Criminal Code, to three to fifteen years in prison.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

FGM was condoned in the early 2000s by the state and the community, and later, the state, in 2008, launched a nation-wide campaign to condemn and limit the practice.

To solidify its stance, in August 2016, Article 242 of the Criminal code suggested that the punishment of performing FGM is imprisonment with hard labor for up to 15 years.

Filing for a divorce—Khula

In 2000, the groundbreaking Khula Law, known as Law No. 1 of 2000, allowed women to file for divorce, in registered and unregistered marriages, without the husband’s consent. During the same year, Egypt also saw the establishment of the right for women to apply for a passport and travel without the husband’s consent.

Domestic violence

Law No. 10 of 2004 introduced the Family Courts, allowing women to demand their rights and seek legal protection from domestic violence. Building on Law No. 10, Law No. 11 of 2004 established the Family Insurance Fund, a system through which women can collect court-ordered alimony and child support money. Law No. 154 was also changed in 2004 to allow children of Egyptian mothers and a foreign father to have equal citizenship rights; in the past, one could only be an Egyptian citizen if their father is Egyptian.

Legal Custody

In 2008 reforms were also made to extend the mother’s legal custody to 15 years of age, raise the legal age of marriage to 18, and allow children to take their mother’s name, if their father is not proven.

Against violence, torture and mutilation

Articles 11, 52, 60, 67, 71, 80, and 89 of the 2014 Constitution ensure the protection of women against violence, torture, mutilation and organ trade, incitement of violence against women or specific women-based groups, “impingement of individual honor”, sexual exploitation and assault, and human trafficking, respectively.
 
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