Divorce - File photo/The clear point blog
CAIRO – 17 March 2018: Polygamy always asserts itself as one of the most heated topics, especially in Muslim-majority and Middle Eastern countries, and yet again, the controversy is heating up.
Abla el Hawary, member of the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives, proposed new amendments to the Personal Status Law, which forces a Muslim husband who intends to remarry to submit his legal marital status papers to the marriage registrar, including the names of his previous/current wives.
The new amendments included setting a six-month prison term for the husband that did not inform his spouse/spouses of his remarriage.
The new legal move sparked controversy both inside the clutches of Parliament or on various social media platforms.
Public opinion/internet brawl ensue:
In a comment, prominent anchor Bassam Wahba said, “If my husband thought of doing this [remarrying], I will cut his head off,” recounting the story of a friend of hers who attempted to commit suicide when she learned of her husband’s second marriage.
She also said that she knew a wife that was totally accepting her husband’s second marriage and maintains a strong relationship with his second wife, stressing that the whole matter is relative; some people can accept this, while some others may not.
For his part, Sunni preacher Walid Ismail condemned the law proposal, affirming that any wife who requests her husband to divorce her because of him remarrying will not smell the scent of heaven.
He added that Sharia law does not entail that the husband has to inform his wife of his remarriage.
Ahmed Karima, a professor of comparative jurisprudence at Al-Azhar University, condemned the law, stressing that the law would open the door to forgery, deception and fraud, as well as increase the prevalence of customary marriages in society.
Religiously and socially motivated long-standing controversy:
Mona Abo Shanab, founder of an initiative that supports the idea and prevalence of polygamy in society, strongly condemned the law’s proposal, saying that it was drafted by “some women who have physiological issues and complexes and do not carefully consider the problem of the outbreak of spinsters.”
In statements to Egypt Today, MP Cariman Khalil said that the law proposal takes into consideration the humane side of the problem, adding that informing a woman of her husband’s second marriage is her right and thus she can make her choice, either to accept it or request a divorce.
The aim of enforcing this law is preserving the family’s regime and the rights of the future generations.
Gender trainer and expert Ahmed Hegab told Egypt Today that the problem is that the society is reconciled with second marriages, and in some cases they are used as punishment to the first wife owing to Salafist movements that propagate second marriages and try to normalize them in society.
Feminist and translator Yasmine Mohsen hailed the legal proposal, saying that it reflects the general tendency of the legislative institutions to stand up for women’s rights.
Mohsen also said that there is a kind of sexual obsession that washes over the society and second marriages are the sacred cover for it, and those who propagate it are trying to manipulate people into thinking that second marriages are good for society and specifically women, as they deem it the solution to helping orphans, poor girls and divorcees get married.
In Egypt, polygamy is legally allowed, as Islam permits a Muslim man to wed up to four wives under the condition of treating them equally. However, the equality is too difficult to be achieved as demonstrated in Quran (Muslims' holy book).
"You can never be equitable in dealing with more than one wife, no matter how hard you try. Therefore, do not be so biased as to leave one of them hanging (neither enjoying marriage, nor left to marry someone else). If you correct this situation and maintain righteousness, GOD is Forgiver, Most Merciful." The Quranic verse on polygamy says. The verse is translated by one of the internationally-accredited translators of Quran, Khalifa, according to Quran browser website.
According to a random sample of women found regularly frequenting the court, two percent of the complaints filed were because of disputes relating to the refusal of husbands to fend for their children because of second marriages.
Divorce rates in Egypt are witnessing a noticeable increase compared to marriage rates, according to a report issued on Monday by the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS).
In a February report, it was stated that divorce rates increased by 6.5 percent from December 2016 to December 2017. The number of divorce forms issued in December 2017 reached 14,000, compared to 13,000 during the same month of 2016