On solutions for women debtors’ plight in Egypt

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Mon, 16 Oct 2017 - 02:58 GMT

Egyptian inmates women - CC

Egyptian inmates women - CC

CAIRO – 16 October 2017: Tens of thousands of poor Egyptian women spend years in jails not for killing, stealing or even selling drugs, but for borrowing money they can’t pay back.

The majority of these women have debts of not more than $1,000, commonly after falling behind on repayments for domestic items, such as fridges or furniture. Each debt is given a separate penalty by the court, so they could be imprisoned for more than 30 years.

“Women debtors in Egypt… Solutions outside the walls” is the tile of the conference held by the Children of Female Prisoners Association (CFPA), in attendance of many humanitarians and non-governmental organizations, with the aim of solving the growing crisis of these illiterate and unemployed women.

Journalist Nawal Mostafa, head of CFPA, stated that the association is working to amend Clause 341 of the Criminal Law, which stipulates that “the crime is registered as 'Betrayal to Municipality', which could be explained as a receipt given out without the amount available to pay.”

She also called for substituting the imprisonment punishment of the debtors with civil service, pointing out that the cost of maintenance of the lives of these women debtors inside the prison is high, particularly with the increasing number of prisoners.

She also indicated that the period of the sentence may turn into a training period for the prisoner through public service works, such as cleaning, public hospital services or handicrafts, which will benefit the convicted after the term of the sentence.

She stressed that many governmental and civil institutions, parliamentarians and intellectuals stand with the objectives of the association and its aim, which will protect thousands of female debtors in Egypt from the danger of entering the prison, entailing heavy losses to their families.

Some Egyptian women are naive and spend a huge amount of money on furniture and domestic items, professor of Theology at al-Azhar University Dr. Amna Nosseir said, calling them to tighten their spending.

Humanitarians express their hope to end this crisis, which turns Egyptian women to criminals when they would otherwise be innocent.

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