Discrimination and violence against women consecrated by the Egyptian legislation

Prepared by
Lawyers Niyazi Mustafa and Maha Youssef
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Contents
Introduction……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….4
Women in the Constitution …………………………………………………………………………………………..6
International conventions ratified by Egypt related to women’s rights……………………………….7
The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW): ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..7
Comments on Egypt’s reservations to CEDAW……………………………………………………..11
Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women ……………………………………….11
Women and the Egyptian Criminal Code ……………………………………………………………………..12
Crimes of sexual violence……………………………………………………………………………………….12
Wife battering in the Penal Code ……………………………………………………………………………..16
Adultery ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….17
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and the Egyptian Legislation………………………………….18
Women in the Personal Status Law(s) ………………………………………………………………………….19
General problematic of the Law ………………………………………………………………………………19
Obstacles to the economic participation of women in the Personal Status Law ……………..19
Withdrawal of the alimony ……………………………………………………………………………………..20
Insubordination ………………………………………………………………………………………………….20
Working wives …………………………………………………………………………………………………..20
Caring activities and their impact on the economic rights of women…………………………….21
Family Courts………………………………………………………………………………………………………..22
Conciliation offices: an absent role…………………………………………………………………………..22
Difficulties faced by women in the Personal Status Law regarding marriage…………………22
Difficulties faced by women in the case of ending marriage by regular divorce or by Khul’……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………23
Difficulties faced by divorced women regarding alimony …………………………………………..24
Difficulties faced by women in obtaining the custody of the children …………………………..24
Marriage of minor girls…………………………………………………………………………………………..24
Women and Labor Legislations…………………………………………………………………………………..25
The Labor Law 12/2003……………………………………………………………………………………………..26
Law of Social Insurance and Social Security ………………………………………………………………..30
Problems of various categories of workers with the system of social insurance and social security………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..31
Dangers and risks covered by Law 79/1975………………………………………………………………31
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Education ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..32
Health……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..33
Final recommendations………………………………………………………………………………………………35
In terms of the Penal Code………………………………………………………………………………………35
The Personal Status Code ……………………………………………………………………………………….35
The Labor Law………………………………………………………………………………………………………35
In terms of Social Protection……………………………………………………………………………………36
In the field of Education …………………………………………………………………………………………36
In terms of Health ………………………………………………………………………………………………….36
References and sources ………………………………………………………………………………………………37
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Introduction
The New Woman Foundation (NWF) is a feminist organization registered under the Ministry of Social Solidarity since 2004; its activities are based on the full adoption of international conventions, mainly those related to women’s rights. NWF mission is the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women whether economic, social, cultural or political existing in the cultural, political and legal systems. Accordingly, the organization has committed itself to achieve several objectives among which is contributing in the amendment of existing laws towards the enactment of fairer legislation for Egyptian women. In order to accomplish this goal, NWF implements various strategies and works in coordination with a number of non-governmental organizations, and uses the following methods:
• The process of taking legal proceedings in some cases and the provision of legal aid to women victim of discrimination and violence either in the private or the public sphere;
• Participation in the development of draft laws and articles of laws to secure gender equality at all levels; as an example, a task force to combat sexual violence against women was launched in 2008 under the initiative of the New Woman Foundation and included 16 NGOs. The task force proposed amendments to some articles of the Penal Code regarding sexual harassment and rape; the proposed amendments were backed by a conceptual note relying on a human rights approach; both texts were presented to the Egyptian Parliament through some parliamentarians who were sensitive to the issue of promoting women’s rights; unfortunately, the Parliament was dissolved by judgment of the Constitutional Court and the proposal was never examined to date.
• NWF has also developed proposals in cooperation with lawyers and trade unionists about women’s rights at work. Moreover, the organization has issued concrete suggestions in 2013 about the new Constitution that was under discussion at that time; the proposals focused specifically on the importance of confirming the commitment of Egypt to international conventions and the translation of these commitments into concrete gender-sensitive legislation. We have also published a critical review from the perspective of women’s rights about Labor Law 12/2003 as well as the draft Labor Law developed and proposed by the government in 2016. Moreover, NWF commissioned a researcher to produce a study about the unpaid labor of women within the family in the informal economy.
With the draft law about violence against women issued by the National Council of Women and circulated for public debate, NWF considered it was important to deal seriously with this project, especially that violence affecting women has become an issue widely discussed in the public area, including in the governmental circles and the various ramifications of the civil society; it is worth noticing here that the trends of violence against women are escalating at the social level combined with a qualitative transformation in the crimes of rape and sexual harassment, taking a collective form of aggression and using women’s bodies to break any type of resistance. Therefore, the enactment of a law criminalizing violence against women represents a pressing need; however, such legislation should rely on human rights criteria and
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provide the necessary protection to women. On this base, NWF has issued a position paper related to the draft law proposed by the National Council of Women that is once again relying on the philosophy of preserving public morals.
In the same context, we present in this paper a critical review of the current laws, many of them consecrating inequalities and gender discrimination. The paper was developed by two legal experts, Dr. Niyazi Moustafa and Ms. Maha Youssef. It tackles several laws and articles of laws including the Personal Status Law, the articles related to sexual violence, wife battering, female genital mutilation and adultery in the Penal Code, the Labor Law, and the Social Insurance and Social Security Law. The paper examines the level of compatibility between these laws and international conventions and standards, the guarantees provided by the Egyptian Constitution, and formulates remarks about the legal texts that may lead to/or exacerbate discrimination and violence against women in both the private and public space.
The New Woman Foundation
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Women in the Constitution
In Part I of 2014 Constitution about the Egyptian State, we read in Article 2 that the principles of Islamic Sharia1 are the main source of legislation; Article 3 mentions that the principles of Christian and Jewish Sharia are the main source of legislations that regulate the respective personal status for Egyptian Christian and Jews, as well as their religious affairs and the selection of their spiritual leaders; Article 6 stipulates that “nationality is a right to anyone born to an Egyptian father or an Egyptian mother” In addition, Article 53 specifies that all citizens are equal before the Law; they are equal in rights, freedoms and general duties, without discrimination based on religion, belief, sex, origin, race, color, language, disability, social class, political or geographic affiliation or any other reason.
While the Egyptian Constitution adopted a detailed approach in some passages related to the social and economic rights, the same approach was not implemented in the context of general human rights and freedoms, leaving to the legislator the authority of organizing these rights in the absence of explicit constitutional texts protecting the enjoyment of those rights by citizens or preventing the legislator from introducing legal amendments that might jeopardize the political and civil rights as it has been the case for over forty years since the enactment of 1971 Constitution.
Nevertheless, we have to acknowledge that the present Constitution includes several articles mentioning human rights and women’s rights and that it adopts the basic principles about gender equality, such as:
− Achieving social justice and providing a dignified life for all citizens;
− Protecting women from all forms of violence;
− Eliminating all forms of discrimination against citizens and establishing a Commission responsible of following-up and monitoring the implementation of this goal;
− Providing care and protection to motherhood and childhood, women bread providers, aged women, as well as the most needy categories of women;
− Considering that the international human rights Conventions and Agreements to which Egypt is committed have the force of law after being published in the Official Journal;
The Constitution mentioned also number of measures and provisions that were not, however, clearly formulated and are not binding to the legislator, such as:
− Achieving equality between women and men in all civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights;
− Adopting the necessary measures that guarantee a fair representation of women in the elected bodies;
− Securing the right of women to access public and high administrative positions in the State as well as being nominated in the judiciary apparatus without discrimination;
1 The expression Sharia refers in Arabic to a set of religious principles forming part of the common tradition; while it is mainly related to Islam, the term is also used in Egypt for the other religions.
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− Enabling women to reconcile between their family duties and their work requirements.
The Constitution considers all citizens equal in rights with specific reference to women and men; therefore, any discriminatory provisions in laws hold an anti-constitutional character and might be the subject of lawsuits. However, the reference to the creation of an independent Commission for the elimination of all forms of discrimination (Article 53) doesn’t show the commitment to take specific steps in order to implement this project neither does it refer to specific measures to be initiated by the Commission such as the allocation of a quota for women other than the quota allocated in the Constitution in the elections of local councils. The adoption of such measures could have contributed to improve women’s access to high positions and decision-making levels. Actually, women continue to be deprived from nomination in the high judiciary posts beside their weak representation in the offices of attorney or the in the regular ranks of the judiciary corpus.
Moreover, the Constitution retains the same traditional vision considering that domestic duties are solely the responsibility of women; this trend clearly appears in Article 11 that mentions the responsibility of the State to enable women reconciling between their family obligations and their duties at work. Such provision is in flagrant contradiction with Article 93 that confirms the commitment of Egypt to international conventions and treaties including – among others – the conventions ratified by Egypt with the International Labor Office mentioning that domestic duties are the responsibility of both the family and the society and requesting accordingly clear commitments on behalf of the State, the private sector and the family to implement this principle, i.e. domestic duties and tasks should not be considered and handled as the sole responsibility of women.
International conventions ratified by Egypt related to women’s rights
By virtue of Article 93 of 2014 Constitution, the international conventions ratified by Egypt are an integral component of the national law and should be respected while developing draft laws or amending the existing texts; in this respect, the paper will pay special attention to the following commitments:
The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW):
The Arab Republic of Egypt has ratified CEDAW on September 18 1981 and this ratification was published in the Official Journal on December 17 1981.
The Convention is composed of a preamble and thirty articles related to the basic human rights and freedoms of women in all vital aspects of life, mainly family, work, health, education, and social security; its primary objective is to secure full gender equality in these various aspects.
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In Article 1, CEDAW define discrimination against women as “any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women irrespective of their marital status, on a base of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field”.
Article 17 to 22 also mentions the establishment of a Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women for the purpose of considering the progress made in the implementation of the Convention. In order to follow-up the progress achieved, State Parties will be requested to submit regular reports on the legislative, judicial, administrative or other measures which they have adopted to give effect to the provisions of CEDAW and on the progress made in this respect.
Article 2 of the Convention mentions the commitment of “State Parties (to) condemn discrimination against women in all its forms, agree to pursue by all appropriate means and without delay a policy of eliminating discrimination against women and, to this end, undertake:
a) To embody the principle of the equality of men and women in their national constitutions or other appropriate legislation if not yet incorporated therein and to ensure, through law and other appropriate means, the practical realization of this principle;
b) To adopt appropriate legislative and other measures, including sanctions where appropriate, prohibiting all discrimination against women;
c) To establish legal protection of the rights of women on an equal basis with men and to ensure through competent national tribunals and other public institutions the effective protection of women against any act of discrimination;
d) To refrain from engaging in any act or practice of discrimination against women and to ensure that public authorities and institutions shall act in conformity with this obligation;
e) To take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women by any person, organization or enterprise;
f) To take all appropriate measures, including legislation, to modify or abolish existing laws, regulations, customs and practices which constitute discrimination against women;
g) To repeal all national penal provisions which constitute discrimination against women.”
Egypt expressed a reservation about this Article stating that the Arab Republic of Egypt was willing to comply with the content of this article, provided that such compliance does not run counter to the Islamic Sharia.
Actually, Article 2 of CEDAW represents the essence of the Convention, forbidding discrimination in national constitutions and legislations, mentioning the commitments of State Parties in eliminating as well as condemning discrimination against women and taking
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the appropriate measures for that. However, over twenty five years after ratifying the Convention, Egypt took very limited measures to implement this article that does not contradict by any means the Islamic Sharia.
Article 16 mentions that:
“States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in all matters relating to marriage and family relations and in particular shall ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women:
(a) The same right to enter into marriage;
(b) The same right to freely choose a spouse and to enter into marriage only with their free and full consent;
(c) The same rights and responsibilities during marriage and at its dissolution;
(d) The same rights and responsibilities as parents, irrespective of their marital status, in matters relating to their children; in all cases the interests of the children shall be paramount;
(e) The same rights to decide freely and responsibly on the number and spacing of their children and to have access to the information, education and means to enable them to exercise these rights;
(f) The same rights and responsibilities with regard to guardianship, wardship, trusteeship and adoption of children, or similar institutions where these concepts exist in national legislation; in all cases the interests of the children shall be paramount;
(g) The same personal rights as husband and wife, including the right to choose a family name, a profession and an occupation;
(h) The same rights for both spouses in respect of the ownership, acquisition, management, administration, enjoyment and disposition of property, whether free of charge or for a valuable consideration.”
It adds that:
“The betrothal and the marriage of a child shall have no legal effect, and all necessary action, including legislation, shall be taken to specify a minimum age for marriage and to make the registration of marriages in an official registry compulsory.”
In respect of article 16, the Egyptian reservation was related to the equality between men and women in all matters relating to marriage and family relations during the marriage and upon its dissolution that should occur without prejudice to the Islamic Sharia’s provisions whereby women are accorded rights equivalent to those of their spouses so as to ensure a just balance between them. The provisions of the Sharia lay down that the husband shall pay bridal money to the wife and maintain her fully and shall also make a payment to her upon divorce, whereas the wife retains full rights over her property and is not obliged to spend anything on her keep. Therefore, the Sharia restricts the wife’s right to divorce by making it contingent on a judge ruling, whereas no such restriction is laid down in the case of the husband.
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This is a superficial justification deriving from the sacrosanct nature of the firm religious beliefs which govern marital relations in Egypt and which may not be called in question and in view of the fact that one of the most important bases of these relations is an equivalency of rights and duties so as to ensure complementary which guarantees true equality between the spouses.
If we overcome the justification of this reservation, we find no contradiction between Article 16 and the commandments of Islamic Sharia, especially that the said reservation included the idea that Egypt agrees to the equality of men and women in all matters related to marriage and family ties during and after the marriage provided that it does not affect the rights of women versus men. Therefore, we find no reason for this reservation on an article calling for the preservation of women’s rights within and beyond marriage in a way that achieves a fair equilibrium between the rights of both spouses.
Article 23 of the Convention mentions that “nothing in the present Convention shall affect any provisions that are more conducive to the achievement of equality between men and women which may be contained:
a) In the legislation of a State Party: or
b) In any other international convention, treaty or agreement in force for that State”.
Egypt’s reservations are therefore illegal and unacceptable because:
They contradict Article 19 of Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (1969) that mentions under the title “Formulation of Reservations”
“A State may, when signing, ratifying, accepting, approving or acceding to a treaty, formulate a reservation unless:
a) the reservation is prohibited by the treaty;
b) the treaty provides that only specified reservations, which do not include the reservation in question, may be made; or
c) the reservation is incompatible with the object and purpose of the treaty
It is also incompatible with Article 21 of Vienna Convention which states that any reservation does not modify the provisions of the treaty for the other parties to the treaty or could impact the international law.
It is incompatible as well with CEDAW provisions in Article 28 stating that “a reservation incompatible with the object and purpose of the present Convention shall not be permitted”;
However, we note that Egypt maintains the reservation in Article 29 paragraph 2 concerning the right of a State signatory of the Convention to declare that it does not consider itself bound by paragraph 1 of that Article concerning the submission to an arbitrary body of any dispute which may arise between States concerning the interpretation or application of the Convention. This is in order to avoid being bound by the system of arbitration in this field.
Actually, reservations on the provisions of the Convention should be considered antagonist to two fundamental principles of the United Nations notably, the elimination of discrimination against women, and the promotion of equality between women and men.
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Comments on Egypt’s reservations to CEDAW
Actually, the reservations contradict the purpose and object of CEDAW according to the provisions included from Article 2 to 16 of this Convention, as these articles represent a comprehensive set that could not be divided or fragmented into smaller pieces of rights; in fact, equality cannot be fully achieved in the field of education, work, participation in the economic, political, cultural and social life, when women remain under the custody of men in the family context and are considered as lacking competence in spousal and peer relations. The first Article of the Convention offers us a comprehensive definition of discrimination applicable to all the articles included in CEDAW and refuting any potential reservations as this Article refers to all the issues related to legal discrimination either in the private or public life.
It is important to mention here that some Arab countries have totally withdrawn all their reservations on CEDAW as in the cases of Morocco and Tunisia; Egypt also withdrew its reservation on paragraph 2 of Article 9 by virtue of presidential decree Number 249/2007 that agrees to grant the Egyptian nationality for children born of Egyptian mothers and foreign father thanks to the fight over long years of Egyptian feminist organizations. The UN Secretary General was notified of the decision in compliance with Article 28/3 of CEDAW: “Reservations may be withdrawn at any time by notification to the effect addressed to the Secretary General of the United Nations who shall then inform all States thereof. Such notification shall take effect on the date of which it is received”.
Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women
In view of the widespread phenomenon of violence against women worldwide, the United Nations General Assembly issued a special declaration to eliminate this phenomenon.
The Declaration adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 20 1993 includes in its first article a clear, comprehensive and specific definition of violence against women: “violence against women means any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life”.
Article 2 of the Declaration mentions that:
“Violence against women shall be understood to encompass, but not be limited to, the following:
(a) Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring in the family, including battering, sexual abuse of female children in the household, dowry-related violence, marital rape, female genital mutilation and other traditional practices harmful to women, non-spousal violence and violence related to exploitation;
(b) Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring within the general community, including rape, sexual abuse, sexual harassment and intimidation at work, in educational institutions and elsewhere, trafficking in women and forced prostitution;
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(c) Physical, sexual and psychological violence perpetrated or condoned by the State, wherever it occurs.”
Therefore, the Declaration set a clear definition, denominated the forms of violence against women as being physical, sexual and psychological, that occur in the private, the public spheres as well as the violence practiced by the State.
This Declaration was followed by Vienna Conference on Human Rights that recommended considering violence against women as a violation of human rights in a Protocol annexed to the Declaration.
In 1994, the UN Commission on Human Rights presented the proposal – that was adopted by the General Assembly – to nominate a special Rapporteur for the cases of violence against women, reflecting thus the UN acknowledgement of the size of the phenomenon and the importance of monitoring it similarly to the other violations of human rights.
In 1999, the UN General Assembly decided by virtue of decision 54/134 to consider the 25th of November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women inviting governments, international organizations and NGOs to deploy their efforts in order to raise the awareness about the issue on that Day.
The definition of the forms of violence against women, as well as the identification of the settings where they occur is an important step towards the means to combat this phenomenon; however, it is important to note that these forms of violence vary according to the different socio-economic, political and cultural contexts and may not have the same characteristics everywhere.
Although accurate data about the prevalence of violence against women are scarce regarding some types of violence and non-existent about others especially in terms of psychological violence, we will try to review the situation of women in the Egyptian national laws according to the classification adopted by the UN, i.e.:
− Physical, sexual and psychological violence in the family;
− Physical, sexual and psychological violence at the social level;
− Physical, sexual and psychological violence practiced or condoned by the State.
Women and the Egyptian Criminal Code
According to the Egyptian Constitution and the international commitments, the legislator is requested to secure full equality between women and men in developing all national laws and in amending any articles that may include discrimination between them. However, this is not the case in the Criminal Code where we find several unjustified clauses that consecrate such discrimination:
Crimes of sexual violence
The phenomenon of sexual violence is escalating in the Egyptian society and it provokes harmful effects for the victim at the psychological, physical and sexual levels; nevertheless,
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the present provisions of the Penal Code do not provide the necessary protection for women against sexual violence. Actually, the clauses related to sexual violence are full of gaps and the spirit of the Criminal Code relies on inadequate concepts and unjustified discrimination between men and women.
While the Law criminalizes under three different chapters several acts of sexual violence, such as “rape” referred to as “intercourse without consent” and “sexual harassment” referred to as “indecent assault against the honor and corruption of morals”, we read in Article 267: “Whoever lies with a female without her consent shall be punished with death penalty or hard labor”. Death penalty is applied in the following cases:
− If the victim has not yet attain eighteen complete years of age;
− If the perpetrator is from the victim’s ancestors;
− If the perpetrator is from those in charge of rearing, observing, or having power on the victim, or is a paid servant to her or to the aforementioned persons;
− In case of collective rape.
The explanation given by legal experts of “intercourse without consent” is a penetration of the victim’s sexual organs by the sexual organs of the perpetrator, either this penetration is total or partial; otherwise penetration by any other means is not considered a rape but rather as an indecent assault. In addition, in order to be legally considered a crime of rape, this forced intercourse should be proved to be compatible with the sexual potentials of both the perpetrator and the victim; for example, if the man is impotent, or the vagina of the female cannot be penetrated for health reasons, or because of the young age of the victim, the case is not examined as a rape.
Thus, Article 267 limits the definition of rape to the mere penetration of a sexual organ into another sexual organ without even referring to any other form of penetration by fingers, with a sharp object, in the mouth or in any other place of the body. This shows that the idea doesn’t evolve about the extent of harm suffered by the victim, but is rather based on ethical considerations relying on religious and social norms related to what is called “the preservation of honor”, mainly referring to that of men. Moreover, it is clear that the Article does not apply to spousal rape which is not considered as a crime by the legislator on the base of Article 2 of the Constitution, i.e., on the base that the principles of Islamic Sharia are the main source of legislation.
Article 268 mentions that whoever indecently assaults a person by force or threat, or attempts such assault shall be punished with hard labor for a period reaching up to 15 years; and if the victim has not attained complete eighteen years of age he will be punished with firm jail for not less than seven years. We note here that the text of the Article does not specify the sex of the perpetrator or the victim; therefore, it applies to both males and females.
The definition of indecent assault means that the perpetrator has committed an act on the person of the victim by violating some of her intimate organs causing her embarrassment and shame. The tribunal has identified the violation of intimate organs in the three following cases:
− Uncovering intimate parts of the body even without touching them;
− Touching intimate organs of the victim even when they remain covered;
− Touching and uncovering intimate organs.
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Accordingly, it is obvious that crimes of sexual violence are unfairly perceived as crimes against public morals or causing embarrassment rather than crimes perpetrated against the person of the victim. We also consider that there is need to differentiate between the intensity of these crimes to set proper and gradual punishments for each one of them. As already mentioned, we confirm the importance of adopting and using the accurate definitions and appropriate denominations of these crimes. For example, a definition of the meaning of rape should be extended to any penetration by any form in any part of the body of someone, whether against a woman or a man. Committing such act against the will of somebody should also be considered an element of the crime in all cases as this often happens even without the use of force or threats and occurs within power relations where the victim is incapable of resisting to assaults, such as marital rape and quite often with sexual harassment practiced at the work place when women are in dire need to keep their job for mere economic reasons and become incapable of clearly refusing the assaults of a superior.
Finally, the Penal Code was amended in 2014 by Article 306 (A) stating that a penalty of detention or a period not exceeding six months and a fine of not less than 3000 pounds and not exceeding five thousand pounds or either penalty shall be inflicted on whoever molests a person in a public or private place by words or deed or by any other means including through telephone, internet, etc. In Article 306 B, if any of the crimes mentioned in the previous article are committed in order to obtain a sexual benefit from the victim, the perpetrator shall be punished with detention for a period of not less than one year and a fine not less than ten thousand pounds and not exceeding twenty thousand pounds or by one of the two punishments.
If the perpetrator was one of those mentioned in Article 267 (an ancestor, somebody in charge of rearing, observing, of having power over the victim, a paid servant, or if the crime is done by two or more persons, or by someone holding an arm), the punishment of detention will not be less than two years and not exceeding five years, and the fine not less than twenty thousand pounds not exceeding fifty thousand pounds.
This amendment to the Law came after events of collective sexual harassment in Egyptian streets that frightened women and revealed the weakness of the old provisions and their incapacity of providing protection. The changes introduced in the Law resulted from the pressures exerted by the women’s movement and their organizations. However, we need to formulate some comments about these amendments:
I – Innovations brought by the amendments
The previous text of the Penal Code did not foresee inflicting a punishment for sexual harassment that happens in closed private places, but was limited to public roads or frequented places without considering that this type of aggression frequently happens in private settings such as work places. Therefore, we find that this amendment represents a positive addition to the provisions of the Law.
The amendment also increased the punishment in some specific cases where there is a situation of power relation between the perpetrator and the victim, when the crime is committed by more than one person or under the threat of an arm.
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II – Negative aspects of the amendments
Similarly to the old text, the amendment did not specify the difference between molesting and sexually harassing someone, leaving the definition to the Court of Appeal and causing a state of confusion among the various judiciary instances when they have to pronounce a judgment.
In addition, the amendment presupposes that the perpetrator should seek to obtain a sexual benefit, leaving another time the explanation of this vague text between the hands of legal experts and judges.
Moreover, the amendments did not extend to Article 17 that represents a real problem in the case of rapes as it grants judges the authority of using the right of clemency allowing them to decrease punishments by two levels:
 Capital punishment penalty2 may be replaced by a life hard labor or temporary hard labor penalty;
 A permanent hard labor penalty may be replaced by a temporary hard labor penalty or by imprisonment;
 A temporary hard labor penalty may be replaced by imprisonment or confinement that may not be less than six months;
 An imprisonment sentence may be replaced by confinement penalty which may not be less than three months.
According to these provisions, the Court of Appeal issued two judgments (on June 20 1966 and on January 7 1981) stating that the discretionary right of the judge to use clemency is the sole authority of the Court of Substance (i.e. the Criminal Court) that should not be questioned or requested to justify its decisions which are taken separately case by case according to the judge point of view. Consequently, the evaluation of the penalty or the reasons of clemency are thus totally left to the will of the judge at the Criminal Court who takes his decisions without any monitoring or discussion by the Court of Appeal.
The extent of reduced penalties and alleviating circumstances applies only to the Criminal Court, the justification of this being that the measure is not useful in the cases of misdemeanor and other contraventions where the Law does not mention minimum penalties for each case separately, noting that these penalties are already low. As of criminal acts, the Law refers to a minimum penalty case by case; therefore the judge needed the right to use alleviating circumstances in order to decrease punishment by one or two levels. This right represents an enlargement of judges’ authority that sometimes use it in cases requiring firm punishments. Finally, the alleviation of punishment is restricted to the deprivation of freedom and do not extend to the bail.
The exception to this rule is related to Law 182/1960 for the Fight against Stupefacient and Drugs that includes the penalty of imprisonment for the crime of possessing stupefacient for personal use and does not allow decreasing the punishment under six months of jail for alleviating circumstances. Article 36 of Law 182/1960 notes explicitly the exemption from
2 We have to clarify here that we – as human rights defenders – are against the death sentence whenever it is mentioned in any parts of this paper; however, as the Egyptian legislation still adopts such punishment in several crimes, we merely discuss the alleviation of punishment that might take place from this perspective.
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applying Article 17 of the Penal Code in those cases. And this is confirmed by Articles 102-192 D of the Penal Code that represent a contradiction with the provisions of Article 17.
Our observation about this controversial Article 17 is that it is widely used by judges in the case of rapes and sexual harassment especially when the victims are women; we illustrate here our idea with a case where the perpetrator was convicted of kidnapping, rape and killing by error, crimes that should have been punished by capital sentence according to the Law; however, after using his discretionary power, the judge decreased the penalty from death sentence to three years of temporary hard labor which is the lowest level of permissible decrease; this is just a mere example on how the authority granted by Article 17 could destroy the life of families, especially in a socio-cultural context tending to consider female victims as guilty, and responsible of their situation; consequently, the public opinion might look at such sentence as a proof of innocence for the perpetrator and stigmatize the victim or her family. The case mentioned happened in a quasi-rural area where conservative norms are prevailing and the task force about sexual violence was contacted by the brother of the victim to help rehabilitating the memory of his deceased sister in front of the surrounding environment.
For all the reasons enumerated above, we call for the amendment of the Penal Code in terms of adopting penalties compatible with the size and nature of crimes, without exaggeration or diminution; we also demand that the authority of judges granted by Article 17 be restricted to decreasing punishments by one level only in the cases of rape, sexual aggression and kidnapping, and we require that a justification of using the authority of clemency be presented by the judge and that all decisions of clemency should fall under the monitoring of the Court of Appeal.
Moreover, the dangers resulting from the crimes of rape and sexual harassment are not less harmful or milder than other crimes such as the possession and propagation of stupefacient where the legislation have put limitations to the use of Article 17 and set a minimum penalty that could not be reduced. It is only fair to consider the crimes of sexual violence against women as important as the other crimes, deserving consideration, reformulation and be dealt similarly.
Wife battering in the Penal Code
According to Article 60, “The provisions of the Penal Code shall not apply to any deed committed in good faith, pursuant to a right determined by virtue of the Sharia”; it is important to stress here that this Article is commonly used in the cases of wife battering, helping thus husbands to escape from punishment.
The same meaning was confirmed by a judgment issued by the Court of Appeal based on the legal right of the defendant to educate his wife “determined by virtue of the Sharia” according to Article 60 cited above as the Sharia grants husbands the right to moderately chastise (discipline) their wives when they commit an error, without however beating them in a violent way that may harm their bodies or result in a change in the color of their skin. Therefore, husbands do not have the right to use cruelty in beating their wives leading to various wounds or even to death as determined by forensic examination. In this case, the perpetrator is judged on the base of Article 236 of the Penal Code.
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As the Court of Appeal judgments are considered legal rules, the afore mentioned judgment has consecrated the right of men to beat their wives without using intense violence leading here to a clear discrepancy between the Egyptian legislation and both the provisions of the Constitution and Egypt’s international commitments. In other words, the entire legal approach to this issue in unacceptable and any physical aggression, whether moderate or acute – should be criminalized; this leads us to request the abolition of Article 60 from the Penal Code or to except violence against women from this Article.
Feminist organizations have proposed several years ago the enactment of a separate law dealing with domestic violence and based on a different philosophy aiming at preventing aggression, providing protection, and adopting social punishments such as moving away violent husbands from the marital house and forcing them to spend on the maintenance of their wives and children during the inquiry and legal proceedings. This proposal was never taken into consideration by legislators who abstain from approaching spheres related to the private life.
We also need to have a look at the concrete reality lived by battered wives when they try to use their legal rights
Available legal protection
Contrarily to the legal protection that criminalizes the acts of insult, slander and physical aggression, when it comes to such acts committed by husbands towards their wives, police stations tend to exert pressures on women to withdraw their complaints combined with other pressures from relatives and the social environment requesting them to avoid taking legal proceedings in order to safeguard their household and their marital relation.
When a woman dares to file a complaint against her husband, she is met with neglect and even additional violence, beginning with storing the complaint that needs – in order to serve legally as a case in court – to be certified by two witnesses who are not always willing to testify, depriving her thus to pursue the legal proceedings. Moreover, many battered wives feel embarrassed of suing their husbands in order to avoid being socially stigmatized.
In case a woman persists in her decision, she is met with sarcasm and negligence in police stations and the necessary process-verbal to pursue the litigation is either not delivered or the facts registered in this document are weak and diluted to the extent that the judgement of the Court is incompatible with the size of the aggression. This is due to the socio-cultural belief that women are hysterical and brainless, while men are considered much wiser than them. The same applies to battering sisters or daughters, which is seen as a sort of disciplinary measure.
Adultery
The articles concerned with adultery show an obvious discrimination between men and women in terms of description of the crime and in punishment while the Islamic Sharia does not include such discrimination; consequently, we are allowed to assert that these articles are anti-constitutional.
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a) Diagnosis of the crime and its punishment
A married woman is convicted of adultery at any place the act occurs, i.e. either inside or outside the conjugal house which is a logical perception as betrayal of the spouse is not linked to a specific place; however, this does not apply to the husband who is legally accused of adultery only when it is committed in the conjugal house unless the act was committed with a married woman in case of which the man is considered as her accomplice in the crime and not as a genuine actor. According to Article 274 “A married woman whose adultery is established shall be punished with detention for a period not exceeding two years.” Differently, we read in a further article that “Any husbands who commits adultery in the marital house and such adultery is established against him by the wife’s prosecution, shall be punished with detention for a period not exceeding six months”. The provisions of the articles related to adultery show thus an evident bias in favor of men.
b) Discrimination in the alleviating circumstances
Article 237 indicates the alleviation of punishment for a husband who surprises his wife in the act of adultery and kills her on the spot together with her adulterer-partner. The justification of the alleviation of punishment with mere detention for a minimum of 24 hours is that the murder is no premeditated and the husband was provoked by the betrayal of his wife and lost his temper.
However, the same does not apply to the woman even if she surprises her husband in the marital house. This discrimination relies on the inhuman assumption that the wife has not the right to get angry or become out of her mind when she surprises her life companion in such a situation; on the contrary, she is supposed to keep calm and abstain from causing harm either to her husband or to his adulterer-partner. If the wife loses control of her nerves and kills her husband or his partner, she is convicted of premeditated crime and is sentenced of prison to life or hard labor imprisonment.
c) Discrimination in the legal procedures
The husband has no right to take legal action against an adulterer wife if he has already committed adultery in the marital house. In such situation, Article 273 grants the wife the right to revoke the case, and this right remains limited to women only. Differently from other articles, we face here an unfair provision against men that we recommend to abolish in the Law as our objective is not to oppress men but rather to establish real gender equality.
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and the Egyptian Legislation
Despite the fact that the fight against FGM has begun in Egypt since the twenties of last century and that even before the Penal Code used to criminalize in 1883 any aggression on the physical integrity of the body whether for males or females, a categorical solution to this issue was never clear in the mind of legislators.
In 2008, a modest amendment to the Penal Code was introduced to reinforce the punishment of premeditated harm if a wound occurred from the practice of FGM taking into consideration Article 61 of the same Law: “No penalty shall be imposed on a perpetrator of a
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crime he had to commit by the necessity of protecting himself/herself or to a third party”. Following are some remarks about the amendment mentioned:
• The amendment did not directly or explicitly criminalize FGM, but considered it as just an aggravating reason to increase the punishment of causing a wound;
• It considered the “necessity” as a reason preventing the responsibility of causing harm and an abolition of punishment in the case of FGM, widely opening the door to surrounding this amendment by pretending that the excision was a necessity to protect the victim or a third party (!) from a pressing danger;
• It also granted the judge the discretionary authority of choosing between imprisonment and a bail for a minimum amount of 1000 pounds which is not by any means compatible with the harm caused to the victim as a consequence of being exposed to FGM;
• It granted the perpetrator a better position than before the introduction of the amendment where FGM was considered an aggression to the integrity of the female’s body; according to the introduced amendment if death resulted from the excision and was considered killing by error, the punishment would be detention for a period of not less than one year and not exceeding five years and the bail ranging from 100 to 500 pounds or one of the two punishments.
Women in the Personal Status Law(s)
We will examine here some problematic related to the matter of personal status without looking at all the difficulties encountered by women, especially that there is a diversity of laws regulating the status of women and children within marriage, in divorce procedures and after divorce.
General problematic of the Law
The present Personal Status Law is totally obsolete, ruling the life of Egyptian households for nearly one hundred years (Law 25/1920), and the consecutive amendments that were introduced to this Law were not sufficient to meet the needs of women and children in terms of rights. These amendments took place in 1929, 1979, 1985, 2005 and 2006; other laws were added such the Khul’ Law (Law 1/2000)3, Laws 10 and 11 in 2004 about Family Courts amended in 2005, and the adoption of a marriage contract that includes some conditions the bride might require such as the right to work, visit her parents and other similar rights. Regarding the multiplicity of problems affecting women in these Laws, we will content ourselves by examining some of the most flagrant and unjust ones:
Obstacles to the economic participation of women in the Personal Status Law
The Family Law is based on the philosophy that marriage is a like a commercial firm where the boss is the husband (as he is the one holding the capital) and the wife is the worker requested to work inside the headquarters of this company, i.e. the marital house. She has to be obedient to the boss who has all the rights over her against providing subsistence;
3 Khul’ Law officially titled the “Law on the Reorganization of Certain Terms and Procedures in Personal Status Matters” refers to the right of women to obtain an irrevocable divorce from the husband against withdrawal of all their financial rights.
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consequently, the wife turns into an employee that might be fired or replaced by another worker any time; this is the spirit of the Law instead of looking at marital life as a partnership between a man and a woman. Despite the concept guiding the philosophy of the Law, women didn’t get any of the rights of workers as they are not paid for their effort, their domestic work is not even acknowledged at the official level and there is no consideration at the social level for this type of work. Therefore, this leads women to remain in a diminished position where they are commissioned to undertake tasks without discussion, such as housekeeping, rearing children, taking care of the elders and constantly obeying the husband, otherwise, they are considered insubordinate (“nashiz”
4) by the society. All this is the result of developing policies based on the dependency of women to men and leading to refrain their role as an active actor in the society and even inside the household.
Because the Law lacks any definition of marriage, we had to extract this definition from the articles of the Law that limited the rights of women in the institution of marriage to being financially taken care of by the husband against obedience and having to seclude themselves in the marital house to care for the husband and be responsible of all other family matters.
Withdrawal of the alimony
Insubordination
Insubordinate wives are those who disobey their husbands without a legal reason, or for a reason that is not related to a fault committed by their partners, or those who go outside the house without permission; in these cases, they are considered insubordinate and do not deserve any longer an alimony.
Working wives
Law 100/1985 considers that the alimony to women should not be withdrawn if they go outside house without the authorization of the husband in legitimate and necessary situations, or if they practice a legitimate work unless it is found that they misuse this right or if it is against the family interest and their husband ask them to abstain from working. Therefore, the right of women to alimony does not fall in the following cases:
− If the bride has registered the right to work in the marriage contract;
− If the husband was aware at the time of marriage that she was already working;
− If the husband agreed after marriage that his wife goes out for work.
According to these provisions, women’s work is pending on the condition that they do not misuse this right or that it does not conflict with the family interests. This practically means that women’s work depends totally on the approval and authorization of the husband and that it is not a genuine unconditional right for them. Moreover, the mention of not misusing this right is not clear enough and its determinants remain vague as we ignore whether it is the husband or the judge who decides that misuse happened or that women’s work went against the family’s interests. Therefore, the right of women to work is emptied from its content and contradicts all the requirements of the contemporary period including the prevailing social conditions, the rationale of human rights and equality as well as the reality identified by official data showing that 30% of Egyptian families are women-headed households. All these
4 The term “nashiz” has a negative connotation at both the social and legal levels.
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reasons restrict the capacities of women and their participation in the economic life, especially when the marital relation ends with divorce and women have lost during the secluded period of marriage the opportunity of developing their skills or finding a suitable job.
Several women’s organizations have proposed as an equitable solution for women that the family wealth be divided between the spouses after divorce as a compensation for the unpaid domestic work of women for years and the support they give to men in order to initiate their wealth. Actually, the Family Law provides only alimony of three months for the period of waiting during which a widow or a divorcee may not remarry (because she might be pregnant from the divorced husband) and alimony limited to two years as compensation for the enjoyment and pleasure during marriage.
A preliminary step here would be recognition of the value of unpaid domestic work and an acknowledgment of the idea that any increase in the family wealth is the fruit of the common efforts spent by both spouses.
The development of economic studies and the efforts of the feminist movements worldwide have succeeded to have the UN Commission of Statistics adopting the importance of conducting complementary national accounts about unpaid domestic work and producing disaggregated data showing the share of working hours between women and men in order to get acquainted with a realistic map of economic performance.
UN data indicate that 42% of countries worldwide are committed to measure the value of unpaid work as part of their official statistics. These research helped to highlight the important contribution of domestic work in the social life and showed that women play a major role in this regard. In addition, it appeared that the number of working hours contributed by women often exceeds the number of hours worked by men resulting consequently in the reduction of the number of hours allocated to leisure and relaxation for females in the household in general and wives in particular.
It is also important to indicate that there are pioneering Arab experiences for the division of marital wealth as in the cases of Tunisia and Morocco. For Tunisia a Law enacted in 1998 adopts a system of partnership in property reflecting a trend in legislation to reinforce cooperation among spouses in running family affairs and to protect the rights of working wives who share with their husbands the family expenses, including those related to the purchase of a house or other property. This financial system is legalized either in the marriage contract or after marriage in a separate contract. For Morocco, the legislator explains the way of dividing the wealth gained during the marital life in Article 49 of the Family Code that entered into effect since 2004 and mentions that each of the spouse shall have a separate financial status, however they are entitled to jointly decide how to invest and decide on the money gained during their marriage.
While these two cases leave the decision optional, they represent an important step towards the recognition of women’s rights and the diminution of the forms of injustice they face.
Caring activities and their impact on the economic rights of women
Even when men allow their wives to work, women face other difficulties in laws as well as in the cultural norms; working outside and inside the house is a double burden, especially that rearing children and assuming the household tasks is commonly considered as the sole
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responsibility of women. Generally speaking, women work is allowed when they are capable of totally adapting between the two spheres of work without the help of men as the general culture looks at men’s involvement in domestic tasks as a diminution of their virility and a favor that they would barely grant with condescension, especially that the provisions included in Article 11 of the Constitution have consecrated this concept.
Family Courts
Family Courts were established by Law 10/2004 and are located inside each court of summary justice in Egypt. There are also circuits of appeal in each Court of Appeal to examine the appeals to the judgements of the Family Courts (in the cases allowed by Law), but cases could not be examined by the Court of Cassation. These courts were established with the aim of developing a legal system which is attentive to the best interest of the family, accessible and affordable. Another objective was to centralize and unify matters relative to personal status, avoid the scattering of many aspects of a same case before many courts, solve the main problems faced by belligerents and specifically to protect women and children during the period of litigation; unfortunately, these targets were not reached and the situation of seeking for divorce before courts or requesting their legal rights in alimony or custody of children remains quite bad and represent a nightmare for women especially among the poorest categories.
Conciliation offices: an absent role
Except for the cases where reconciliation is impossible, litigation about the enforcement of judgements or temporary orders, the Law obliges those willing to take proceedings for an issue related to personal status to begin with filing a request at the office of conciliation. These offices are responsible of getting together the parties of litigation, listening to their complaints and providing advice and guidance in order to attempt solving the problem amicably. The conciliation offices are affiliated to the Ministry of Justice and include an important number of legal, social and psychological experts,
The purpose of these office was to provide help to the belligerents through specialized experts in conflict resolution in order to protect the cohesion of the family and attempt to solve the case instead of going to court. However, this did not occur for the inefficiency of the offices. In practice, conciliation offices are not always installed in the family court houses because of lack of place rendering difficult for women to find these offices that are usually overwhelmed by many people. Besides, conciliation offices often try to convince women to give up their requests to avoid that it reaches courts.
Difficulties faced by women in the Personal Status Law regarding marriage
While marriage is a pivotal axis of this Law, it was not sufficiently tackled; as we mentioned before, the Law does not include a definition of marriage; this resulted in the multiplication of the types of marriage that are not regulated by Law such as the tribal marriage, the Sunni and the Urfi5 marriage, etc. In addition, it does not identify the consequences of unregistered contracts of marriage on matters such as inheritance, lineage, marital rights and others. In order to overcome this defect, the Law should include a definition of marriage and its conditions, revise the phenomenon of informal marriage and set a system for its legalization.
5 Urfi marriage is a non-registered marriage contracted through a written paper that should be certified by two witnesses; however, this does not happen always and results in many problems facing women to obtain their rights and those of their children.
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Another big problem is the right of men to recover their wives by force under the name of obedience (“ta’a”) according to the Law; objection of the woman should take place within thirty days following issuance of the official warning addressed by the husband; the case should be then submitted to the conciliation office that takes decision within fifteen days. With all these procedures the notification often reach women quite late leading many lawsuits to be presented after the deadlines and therefore not valid for examination. Another trick is to send the warning of calling for obedience at a wrong address. In addition, these wives face great difficulties to prove the inadequacy of the place where the judgment of obedience would be implemented if the husband has exchanged the marital house with another inappropriate setting.
Besides these problems, women feel deeply humiliated when they are qualified of insubordination as this term is strongly stigmatized at the social level; consequently, we recommend using a different expression such as mutual duties instead of obedience. There are also calls to extend the deadline for the objection to thirty days following the end of the period allocated to the conciliation office and the right to refuse acknowledging receipt of the warning as long as the case is still under judgment in courts.
Difficulties faced by women in the case of ending marriage by regular divorce6 or by Khul’
While the Law obligates men to formally register divorce within thirty days, it is not rare that husbands consciously fail from documenting a divorce pronounced orally; in such case, women have to prove that the divorce actually occurred through the testimony of witnesses who are often reluctant to help them or to testify in matters that would lead to breaking a marital union.
When a husband is subject to a judgment of imprisonment for a period of three years or more, the wife has the right to request an irrevocable divorce for harm after the first year of jail, and if the man possessed wealth, it is also her right to expend from this money.
In order to overcome all the difficulties raised by divorce, it should be defined as a contract to be terminated by either party under the supervision of a judge instead of remaining the unilateral privilege of men to repudiate his wife.
When a woman asks for divorce because her husband has taken a second wife, she has to prove the harm affecting her in front of the Court; such provision refers to polygamy as if it should be considered a normal fact of life!
6 Muslim Egyptian men have a unilateral and unconditional right to divorce without resort to legal proceedings, they simply need to repudiate their wives, saying “you are divorced” three times, making the divorce irrevocable. A repudiated woman has to observe a waiting period not exceeding one year, during which she is not allowed to marry another man. A divorce uttered less than three times is revocable, meaning that the husband has the right to return the divorcee to his household during the waiting period against her will and without having to sign another marriage contract.
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Difficulties faced by divorced women regarding alimony
Article 18 bis of Law 100/1985 mentions that a wife who has consumed the marriage is divorced without her consent and for no reason belonging to her or by her fault deserves in addition to the regular alimony a compensation of not less than two years that should however be calculated in consideration with the financial situation of the husband, the conditions of divorce and the duration of marriage. We note here four conditions for the right to compensation alimony:
1. That the marriage has been consumed;
2. That the divorce has effectively taken place;
3. That the divorce is without the wife’s consent;
4. That the wife is not responsible of the divorce.
Besides these conditions, we note the difficulty of obtaining the alimony in case the man is free-lance meaning that there is no way to prove the real size of his actual salary or wealth; within the bureaucracy of the governmental fund of security for the family or when the requested alimony exceeds the amount allocated by the Court that is generally quite limited and insufficient to meet the basic life requirements, women are confronted to an unfair situation, especially that many divorced women used to be house wives during marriage and have no other means of living for them and their children.
Difficulties faced by women in obtaining the custody of the children
Despite the fact that the Law did not mention that mothers’ right to the custody of children will fall if they re-marry, a prevailing social concept considers that this custody is no more valid in that case; this trend was translated in several Courts’ judgements without any consideration of the impact of this decision on the best interest of the child; actually, the whole issue is left to the discretionary evaluation of the judge.
Regarding the right of visit (access), we consider that the Law grants the upper hand to the custodian either the mother or the father who prevents sometimes the other party from seeing the child out of revenge, or refuses the place of visit selected by the counterpart even if it was the most adequate setting for the child’s psychological stability. Moreover, social workers who monitor the visit are not well trained to perform this duty; finally, grand-parents and other relatives are not included by Law in the right of visit, prevented thus from seeing the child, a fact that contributes in weakening kinship relations.
Accordingly, we recommend that the text of the Law mentions the right of grand-parents, uncles and aunts to see the child, even if it was conditioned by the presence of the father or the mother during the visit.
Marriage of minor girls
UNICEF definition of early marriage is when it occurs between two parties, one of them being beyond age of eighteen, i.e. before attaining full physical, mental and emotional development that are important factors for the success of marriage.
As of the Constitution, it did not directly mention the protection of girls from early marriage; however, it mentions that the State is responsible of protecting children from all sorts of violence, harm, sexual or commercial exploitation.
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In terms of the legal context, Egyptian Law 126/2008 clearly criminalizes early marriage for children and punishes those involved in this act either notaries or parents and relatives. According to Law, in order to contract a marriage both future spouses must go through a health check-up to ensure they are free from any illness that might affect their life or the life of the partner. By virtue of the Penal Code, each person who testifies wrongly that one of the spouses has reached the legal age of marriage will be punished with imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years or with a bail not exceeding 300 pounds, and each person who has the authority of contracting a marriage and does this while knowing that one of the spouses or both is under age will be punished with a bail not exceeding 500 pounds. These are obviously mild kinds of punishments incompatible with the harms that might affect the entire life of children.
Women and Labor Legislations
Labor laws are one of the main determinants revealing the extent of States’ commitment to achieve social justice and provide equal opportunities to citizens; therefore, fair work relations rely mainly on the availability of legislations securing equilibrium between the various parties involved in this equation and contribute in providing adequate and decent work conditions based on gender equality. These are the international standards of labor that the ILO has adopted since its inception through agreements, conventions and recommendations enabling the various States to enact their national laws and develop local policies committed to these standards and criteria and through the 1998 ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work that countries are bound to respect whether or not committed to the agreements of the international organization which include:
1. Conventions 87 and 98 about the right to trade unions’ freedom and the right to collective negotiation;
2. Conventions 29 and 105 about the elimination of all forms of forced labor;
3. Conventions 138 and 182 about the elimination of child labor;
4. Convention 100 about equality of wages and Convention 111 about the elimination of discrimination in employment and profession.
Article 11 of CEDAW mentions also that all member States should take the necessary measures to eliminate discrimination against women at the work place and secure equal rights to women and men. In addition to Article 93 of the Egyptian Constitution considering that all international commitments hold the force of law, as well as Articles 11 and 53 mentioned earlier, we find in the Constitution some obligations about basic needs that should be granted by laws:
a. No citizen may be forced to work except as required by Law and for the purpose of performing public service for a fixed period in return for a fair consideration, and without prejudice to the basic rights of those obliged to carry out such work;
b. Public offices are a competence-based right for all citizens without bias or favoritism;
c. Workers may not be arbitrary dismissed without disciplinary procedures.
The Constitution also required the State to secure the following rights:
a. The right to work;
b. The commitment to build a balanced relationship between the parties involved in the process of production;
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c. The right to collective negotiations;
d. The right of workers to be protected against work risks, and a guarantee of security requirements and professional safety duly fulfilled;
e. The rights and protection of public servants;
f. The obligation of public servants to perform their respective duties in serving the interests of the people.
Legal texts about labor rights
The Labor Law 12/2003
Article 1 of the Law did not discriminate in the definition of labor between women and men either for workers or employers.
Article 4 states that:
“The provisions of the present Law shall not apply to
A) Public servants of the State agencies, including the local government units and the public authorities;
B) Domestic service workers and the like;
C) The employer’s family members whom he actually supports”.
Accordingly, these professions are exempted from the protection of Law; the pretext used to exempt domestic workers is that the intimacy of family houses should not be violated. If we take in consideration that most domestic workers are females, we note also that they are exposed to an increased exploitation doubled by the lack of legal protection and the scarcity of their social status and the stigma attached to this profession rendering them more vulnerable to physical, sexual and psychological violence. It also applies to women in the agricultural sector who are mostly working for the benefit of their family. Therefore, we strongly recommend the amendment of this article and the abolition of categories exempted in B) and C).
Article 12 and following articles regarding the handicapped persons among others state that
a) If applicant for work practices one of the professions issued by a decree of the Minister of Labor Force and Migration, s/he has to present a certificate determining the level of his/her skills and no worker may be employed unless s/he is holder of this certificate;
b) Names of women and men seeking for work have to be registered at the concerned administrative labor office within the circuit of which lies their place of residency; applicant workers will be delivered a certificate of this registration for free;
c) Administrative labor offices shall present the candidacy of workers to employers by chronological order of registration.
A special effort should be granted by the State to women in general and the handicapped ones in particular to inform them of the importance of being registered at these labor offices. Actually, many women are unaware of these provisions and fail from fulfilling the requirements mentioned in the Law.
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Article 27 and the following articles regulate the work of foreigners without gender discrimination:
a) Foreigners shall be authorized to enter and reside in the country for the purpose of working;
b) Foreigners shall not exercise a work except after obtaining a permit from the Ministry of Labor and Migration; “work” means all subordinate work, any profession or crafts, including work in domestic service.
Therefore, it appears clearly that foreign workers enjoy better rights than some categories of local workers such as domestic workers (unlike foreign domestic workers who are explicitly mentioned and consequently under the protection of the Law) and workers in the informal and non-organized sector. The present situation is totally unfair and the Labor Law should be amended in order to include under its protection all the categories of Egyptian workers without discrimination.
Article 31 and the following articles are related to work contracts
a) The Law does not discriminate either between women and men for work contracts;
b) Employers are bound to draw up a labor contract in Arabic writing in three copies of which one shall be kept by the employer, one delivered to the worker and the third deposited with the concerned social insurance office.
We have noticed through field research that an important number of workers do not possess a work contract, especially in the investment industrial zones and specifically in the case of women workers who usually belong to rural areas and have no idea of what “rights” mean.
Article 34 and the following articles regulate the issue of wages. In Article 35 we read: “Discrimination in wages because of the sex, origin, language, religion or creed shall be prohibited”. According to the Labor Law, wages shall be determined either in the work contract, the collective work agreement, the internal regulations of the institution, according to the scale of wages related to a given profession, or by judgment of the Court responsible of examining labor issues.
The Law considered also that setting ceiling about minimum wages represents an important factor in securing a balance in working relations. This used to take place previously through governmental decrees which is in contradiction with both international and Arab conventions considering this issue as a matter to be decided between three stakeholders represented by the government, businessmen organizations and workers’ organizations. In the case of our national Law, minimum wages should be decided by the National Council for Wages as one of the major tasks it is expected to achieve. However, the Council never played its role and the whole matter remains pending on the sole will of the government.
In 2003, the Egyptian Cabinet issued decree number 983 about the composition of the National Council for Wages stating that it will include the National Council for Women among its members; nevertheless, it did not mention a quota for women from trade unions in this Council, weakening thus the representation of women and their participation in decision-making for matters related to work. The National Council for Wages was not requested either to discuss the gender gap in wages that reaches – according to official statistics 25.5% in the public sector and 23.2% in the private sector.
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Article 44 presents the general principles allowing employers to deduct from the worker’s wage stating that in all cases no deduction, retention or relinquishment of the wage due to the worker shall be made for settlement of a debt except within the limits of 25%; the deduction percentage may be increased to 50% in case of alimony debt.
In case of jostling creditors, the alimony debt shall be given precedence, followed by the debt owed to the employer in connection to the tools or materials damaged by the worker, or for refund of payments unrightfully made to the worker, or sanctions imposed on the worker.
The provisions related to the principles of deduction, retention or relinquishment are set in accordance with Articles 75, 76 and 77 of Law 1/2000 titled “Law on the Reorganization of Certain Terms and Procedures of Litigation in Status Matters” stipulating that without prejudice to the rules of deduction, retention or relinquishment of the wage due to the worker in the Labor Law, the maximum amount that may be retained in payment of an alimony debt to the wife, divorcee, children or parents will be calculated according to the following percentages:
− 25% for the wife or the divorcee to reach 40% in the case of multiple wives;
− 25% for both parents or for one of them;
− 35% for two children or less;
− 40% for the wife or the divorcee with one or two children, both parents or one of them;
− 50% for the wife or the divorcee with more than two children, both parents or one of them.
In case of numerous debts of alimony, priority is given to the alimony of the wife or the divorcee, followed by the alimony of the children, then the alimony of the parents, and finally the alimony of other relatives.
This linkage between the Family Status Law and the Labor Law is intended to be for the benefit of women as priority is given to them over all other debts, whether debts of alimony or other types of debts. However, we should not neglect here the difficulties emerging in implementing the Law, especially regarding the possibilities of identifying the real salary or wealth of the man on the base of which the amount of the alimony is calculated. Therefore, there is need to introduce a legal mechanism allowing to determine the exact earnings of the worker. In addition, the Family Status Law should mention that the alimony is intended to cover the basic expenses related to nutrition, clothing and lodging for children according to the concrete scale of prices and on the base of providing dignified means of life.
Articles 88 to 97 of the Labor Law regulate the employment of women workers as follows:
According to Article 88, “all provisions regulating the employment of workers shall apply to women workers without discrimination among them, once their work conditions are similar”.
Article 89 stipulates that women shall not be employed to work during the period between 7 pm and 7 am and left to the concerned minister to determine the cases, works and occasions where this Article applies. Accordingly, ministerial decree 183/2003 was issued about the places where women will not work at night specifically identifying industrial firms and any of their branches. Nevertheless, the decree included several exceptions rendering the text
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empty from any content while granting the concerned minister unjustified authority over women.
By virtue of Article 90, “the concerned minister shall issue a decree determining the works that are unwholesome and morally harmful to women”. In this context, the Minister of Labor and Migration issued decree 155/2003 that included thirty cases where women work should be forbidden without justifying his decision or detailing the criteria that guided him in adopting these rules. Therefore, this Article represents a restriction on women reflecting the prevailing culture about women in our society and considering them as dependent to men.
Actually, Articles 89 and 90 translate a masculine culture impacting the legislator who adopted the traditional trend looking at women as creatures in constant need to be monitored and protected from harm and dangers. This represents a flagrant discrimination against women in the field of work.
As of Article 91, it states that a female worker having spent ten months or more at the service of an employer shall be entitled to a maternity leave of ninety days with compensation equal to her comprehensive wage for the period pre and post-delivery, provided that she submits a medical certificate indicating the date on which delivery is most likely to take or actually took place, and a woman worker shall not be required to work during the 45 days following childbirth. The condition of having spent ten months of service to obtain a paid maternity leave is quite arbitrary and should be abolished when we consider the best interest of the child as the basic priority.
However, we also recommend that leave for child care (maternity leave) should be granted to either one of the two parents, especially when the mother is ill and unable to take care of the child, and precisely to the father in full in case of the decease of the mother; this recommendation goes along with the provisions of Convention 183 related to the protection of motherhood.
By virtue of Article 92, employers are prohibited to terminate the service of a woman worker during her maternity leave; however, the same Article states that the employer may deprive her from the compensation of her comprehensive wage, or recover the amount paid to her if it is proved that she has worked during her maternity leave with another employer, in addition to submitting the woman to disciplinary inquiry.
According to Article 93, a woman worker will have the right during 24 months following the date of childbirth – in addition to the determined maternity leave – to two periods of breastfeeding each one of them amounting to not less than half an hour with the right to join the two periods together that will be accounted as regular working hours.
According to Article 94, in an establishment where fifty women or more are employed, a female worker has the right to obtain a leave without pay for a period not exceeding two years to care for her child. This leave without pay is not entitled for more than three times throughout her service period.
Actually, the provisions of this Article are linked to the condition of employing fifty women or more and apply only to women without men. We recommend that this leave up to two years be granted to either one of the spouses on the base of their mutual agreement, especially in the case of mothers’ death, if the wife has better chances of promotion at work than the
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husband, or if her wages are higher than his earnings. These rules are applied in several countries where the interest of the family is taken into account without considering child care as a specific responsibility of women. Moreover, in its 1981 Conference, ILO adopted recommendation 165 related to Convention 156 about workers with family obligations; the recommendation mentioned clearly that parenthood leave should be granted to anyone of the parents in order to care their children.
Article 95 states that “the employer, in case of employing five female workers or more, shall put up at the places of work a copy of the women employment chart”. This is rarely done and it is worth mentioning that the women employment chart is in itself quite oppressive to women’s rights.
In Article 96, an employer engaging a hundred female workers or more in the same setting has to establish a nursery or assign a nursery school to care for their children; if the number of women workers is less than one hundred, employers in the same area will participate together in implementing the obligations prescribed in this clause.
It is important here to stress the necessity of having employers complying with this Article as this is not always the case and many employers hire a little less than one hundred women in order to escape from their obligations. We also consider that the provisions of this Article should be valid in the case of employing a hundred workers whether women or men on the base of the principle that children are equally the children of fathers and mothers and childcare should be considered a social responsibility rather than the responsibility of mothers only.
Finally, Article 97 mentions that “female workers engaged in sheer agricultural labor shall be excepted from applying the provisions of the present Chapter”, considered as seasonal workers without a systematic contracting agreement with employers. However, according to the provisions of the Constitution mentioned earlier, it is imperative to enact legislations providing these women with social protection, fair working conditions, and care for them and their children during pregnancy, delivery and after childbirth.
Law of Social Insurance and Social Security
The social insurance and security schemes refer to a system aiming at fulfilling coverage against a potential social danger in return of collecting fees from the beneficiaries of these systems as well as from employers with the redistribution of these fees to those entitled to benefit from the system when they are exposed to danger. Actually, social security systems represent a main pillar for the stability of a given society and are one of the elementary social and economic human rights according to the International Covenant on Human Rights as well as ILO Conventions to which Egypt is committed together with Article 17 of the Egyptian Constitution that indicates:
“The State shall ensure that social insurance services are provided.
All citizens who do not benefit from the social insurance system have the right to social security, in a manner that insures a decent life in the event of being incapable to provide for themselves and their families, as well as in cases of incapacity to work, old age or unemployment.
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In accordance with Law, the State shall strive to provide suitable pensions to small farmers, agricultural workers and fishermen, and irregular labor.
The funds of social insurance and pensions are deemed private funds that enjoy all aspects and forms of protection afforded to public funds.
Those funds along with their returns are the rights of their respective beneficiaries; they shall be safely invested, and shall be managed by an independent entity in accordance with the Law.
The State shall guarantee social insurance and pension funds.”
However, according to the data provided by the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS), the reality differs much from these provisions as it appears that 4.9% of employees in the governmental sector are not insured and this percentage reaches 6.5 for workers in the public sector to climb to 57.6% for the organized private sector and 87.7% for the non-organized private sector.
Problems of various categories of workers with the system of social insurance and social security
The problems identified include:
1. Social insurance is calculated on the base of a minimum scale of wages regardless workers’ actual earnings; accordingly, the amount of pensions for retirement, wounds or death is quite low compared to what they are supposed to obtain;
2. In the private sector, workers are compelled at the beginning of the working relation to sign a form or resignation (called form 6), leaving free hands to employers of terminating the contractual relation any time;
3. In many cases, insurance fees are deducted from workers’ salaries without being delivered to the fund of social security;
4. Workers in entrepreneurship firms are poorly rewarded from the revenues resulting from their efforts;
5. The percentage of workers registered at the social insurance authority from the non-organized sector is terribly low.
Women workers used to benefit from a combination between their wages or pension and the pension of a deceased husband differently from men who were not allowed to benefit from the pension of their wives. This pushed a man to make a lawsuit requesting the same right as women; during the proceedings of the Court case, he claimed the unconstitutionality of the Law that discriminates on a gender base. Finally, the Constitutional Court issued a judgment granting equal rights to men and women workers.
Dangers and risks covered by Law 79/1975
The Law covers old age, invalidity, death, illness, unemployment and social welfare to pensioners. This includes permanent and temporary employees and workers in the service of Government authorities and in the public sector, permanent and temporary employees and workers in the private sector. The Law extended to domestic workers except those working in family houses, mainly composed of women; consequently, this category of workers is doubly unjustly treated from both the Labor Law and the Law of Social Insurance and Social Security.
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Several other laws were enacted to cover employers and self-employed (Law 108/1976), Egyptians working abroad (Law 50/1978) and Law 112/1980 to be applied to other members of the working population who are included under the schemes of pensions and social security7.
When we look at the multiplicity of texts regarding social insurance and social security as well as the multitude of implementing ministerial decrees, we can easily understand that they constitute an obstacle in front of the right of women and men workers to obtain their dues; this is combined with the weak enforcement of punishments in case of contravention, the quasi absent follow-up and monitoring, the lack of synergy between the various concerned authorities of the State leading to the dilapidation of the public wealth.
In terms of pensions under the social insurance scheme, they were fully covered by the Egyptian State since the enactment of Law 116/1950 and its amendments by Law 133/1964; actually, previous legislation did not put as a condition to pay any fees in order to be entitled to these pensions. A new system of pension was introduced by Law 30/1977 known as “Sadat pension” and Law 87/2000 known as “Mubarak pension”. Several categories benefitted from the last two laws including orphans, widowed and divorced women, children of divorced women if the mother dies, remarries or is punished with imprisonment, invalid and handicapped persons, single women reaching the age of fifty without marriage, families of prisoners punished for a period not less than three years.
Despite the variety of beneficiaries, the monthly allowance provided by these two schemes of pension is totally insufficient to meet the basic needs or secure a dignified life. There is obviously need to revise the entire system either at the legal level or that of the mechanisms of law enforcement.
Education
The Constitution refers to education under three important detailed articles as follows:
Article 19 notes that:
“Every citizen has the right to education. The goals of education are to build the Egyptian character, preserve the national identity, root the scientific method of thinking, develop talents and promote innovation, establish cultural and spiritual values, and found the concepts of citizenship, tolerance and non-discrimination.
The State shall observe the goals of education in the educational curricula and methods, and provide education in accordance with international quality standards.
Education is compulsory until the end of the secondary stage or its equivalent.
7 Seasonal workers in the various fields of agriculture (temporary workers in agricultural fields, gardens, kettle and poultry rearing and pets, lands under the Law of agricultural reform, land tenants of less than ten feddans or acres, etc. are entitled to these schemes when they work with the same employer for a period exceeding six consecutive months or when their work is different from the activities practiced by the employer. They also include land owners either as renters or owners whose property is less than ten feddans. In addition, we count real estate owners whose revenue is less than 250 pounds per month, fishermen working for the private sector, small self-employed such as street vendors and distributors of newspapers and artisans who do not employ others, do not have a fixed place to practice their work or are not bound to issue a commercial register and do not employ workers, some categories of domestic workers in private houses, owners of small boats for fishing, river or maritime transportation, health workers in rural and urban areas, craftsmen, religious servants in churches and free-lance teachers of Coran verses.
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The State shall provide free education in the various stages in the State’s educational institutions according to the Law.
The State shall allocate a percentage of government spending to education equivalent to at least 4% of the Gross National Product (GNP), which shall gradually increase to comply with international standards.
The State shall supervise education to ensure that all public and private schools and institutes abide by its educational policies.
In Article 20, we read that:
“The State shall encourage and develop technical and technological education as well as vocational training, and expand all their types in accordance with international quality standards and in accordance with labor market needs.”
While Article 21 states that:
“The State shall guarantee the independence of universities and scientific and linguistic academies, and provide university education in accordance with international quality standards.
It shall develop and ensure free provision of, university education in State universities and institutes according to the Law.
The State shall allocate a percentage of government spending to university education equivalent to at least 2% of the Gross National Product (GNP), which shall gradually increase to comply with international standards.
The State shall encourage the establishment of non-profit, non-governmental universities.
The State shall guarantee the quality of education in private and non-governmental universities, ensure that they comply with international quality standards and the improvement of their own faculty members and researchers, and allocate a sufficient percentage of their returns to educational and research development.”
These highly accurate articles request a full and comprehensive revision of all the legislations and policies regulating the educational process; however, such a requirement never happened to date and all educational curricula are crowded by types of discrimination either against women or other categories of citizens. It is worth noting that these constitutional provisions enable us to file lawsuits against the concerned bodies who abstain until now to consecrate the concepts of citizenship, tolerance and non-discrimination in the material proposed to students from all age brackets. In addition, we strongly request the implementation of all principles and measures leading to the accessibility of everybody to educational institutions providing high level standards besides increasing the budget allocated to education and scientific research and innovation.
Health
Article 18 of the 2014 Constitution is also detailed and includes the criminalization of abstention from providing assistance and help in cases of health problems, emergency situations or to any person in danger, whether Egyptian or not.
According to this constitutional Article, all citizens should be able to legally question the State about its non-commitment to the GNP 3% supposed to be allocated on spending in the field of health and expected to gradually increase in order to become compatible with the international standards.
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It is to be noted that women and girls are in general among the worse victims of the deficiencies existing in the health system firstly because of the social culture tending to favor boys and men at the expense of females, secondly because several categories of women workers are exempted from any form of social protection including house-wives, domestic workers and women in the agriculture as well as others working for the family or in the informal non-organized sector, thirdly because current laws are not firm enough regarding the ugly practice of female genital mutilation, and fourthly because the prevalence of violence against women is also related to disastrous health consequences requiring strong interventions in favor of the victims and their physical, sexual and psychological health combined with a clear awareness of these facts among health providers.
The State is expected to speedily submit to the Parliament a draft law for a comprehensive health insurance covering all citizens, as well as draft amendments to the Penal Code criminalizing any abstention from providing health care to all human beings in danger or in emergency cases. Moreover, the Comprehensive Health Care Law will contribute in providing help and assistance to the poorest categories of women; as an illustration, we mention the vagueness of some provisions in Law 127/2014 related to Health Insurance for Peasants and Agricultural Workers about the definition of the categories deserving such coverage. Actually, it is totally ambiguous about the right of women working without pay for the benefit of the family, majority of which belong to the rural areas. The same applies to women working in the agriculture who have no legal protection whatsoever.
On the other hand, we could consider Law 23/2012 of Social Insurance for Women-Headed Households as a positive step; however, the Law necessitates much advertisement and awareness raising among the potential beneficiaries as well as the simplification of measures enabling full access of these women to the proposed services especially that most of them are illiterate and their capacity of reaching legal knowledge and information remains very limited. Here comes the role of the State not only in enacting legislations, but also in activating the process of their implementation.
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Final recommendations
Besides the series of recommendations implicitly inserted in the present paper, we would like to formulate some imperative recommendations deserving serious consideration and rapid action:
In terms of the Penal Code
− Amending the definition of rape to refer to a wider concept compatible with the international standards and norms;
− Adopting equal provisions for women and men regarding the crime of adultery;
− Abolishing Article 60 allowing battering of wives and adding violence against women to this Article;
− Withdrawing the provision of Article 242 bis that practically excludes responsibility due to “necessity” as a pretext of non-responsibility in the case of FGM, in addition, to replace punishment of imprisonment and fine with hard work jail;
− Imperatively enacting provisions that criminalize female genital mutilation without exceptions and adopting increased punishments for those among the health system who practice this custom with obligatory hard labor in case of reiteration.
− Excepting the cases of violence against women from the use of the discretionary authority of the judge to use clemency in Article 17;
The Personal Status Code
− Replacing the diverse codes regulating the personal status with a unified Law that includes all matters pertaining to the family matters under a new philosophy compatible with the social changes and developments and rectifying the negative aspects mentioned above;
− Intensifying punishments related to early marriage; proposed reforms include the amendment of Article 227 of the Penal Code as to increase the ceiling of judgments for those who give false testimonies regarding the age of children proposed for marriage. Amendments should also be applied to the Civil Law 14/1994 that merely refutes the registration of marriage contracts for those who have not reach the age of eighteen without referring to judiciary actions against them except disciplinary punishment; actually, disciplinary punishment in this case is far from being a sufficient measure when it comes to the wellbeing of future generations. In addition, we request legal punishment for the father who might have given in marriage a daughter of less than eighteen years.
The Labor Law
− We request a revision of labor legislations in line with international conventions and the provisions of the Constitution; amendments should include specific measures regarding equal opportunities and securing gender equality in the various fields of work;
− It is equally important to establish a Commission for the Elimination of Discrimination with clear mandate and authorities enabling those responsible of implementation to accurately play their role according to Article 53 of the Constitution;
− We also recommend the revision of punishments imposed on employers who violate the terms of the Labor Law related to gender equality and the implementation of monitoring and inspection mechanisms securing the rule of the law;
− Activating the role of the National Council of Wages especially with regards the adoption of fair policies in wages and in achieving gender equality is an equal pressing requirement that deserves consideration and concrete action;
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In terms of Social Protection
− Enacting a comprehensive law of social protection extending to all citizens, either workers or non-workers, that confirms the concept of social protection, resolve all the problems and gaps existing in current laws in order to overcome the employers’ attempts of escaping from their responsibilities as this currently happens at a wide scale;
− Examine seriously the issue of social insurance fraud on behalf of employers and ensure that workers are properly insured according to their real salaries in order to secure adequate schemes of pension enabling retired persons to pursue a dignified life.
In the field of Education
Our recommendations are to:
− Enact a unified Code for Pre-University Education based on the commitments of 2014 Constitution;
− Request the State commitment to increase the percentage allocated to education and consider this commitment as a national project to achieve concrete and sustainable human development.
In terms of Health
− Enact the Law of Comprehensive Health Insurance that should include:
1. A commitment to the percentage of the GNP mentioned in the Constitution with gradual increase in order to reach the international standards;
2. Implement a system of comprehensive health insurance for all Egyptians, covering all sorts of illnesses on the base of contributions compatible with the revenues of citizens;
3. Amend the Penal Code as to intensify the criminalization of abstention from providing help and care to any person in a case of emergency or in danger.
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References and sources
• 1998 ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work
• 2015 Statistics of the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics.
• Egyptian Law 1/2000 titled “Law on the Reorganization of Certain Terms and Procedures of Litigation in Status Matters”;
• Egyptian Law 108/1976 of Social Insurance to cover employers and self-employed;
• Egyptian Law 112/1980 of Social Insurance to be applied to other members of the working population;
• Egyptian Law 116/1950 and its amendments by Law 133/1964;
• Egyptian Law 182/1960 for the Fight against Stupefacient and Drugs
• Egyptian Law 50/19878 of Social Insurance to cover Egyptians working abroad;
• Egyptian Law 79/1975 on Social Insurance and Social Security;
• Egyptian Laws 10 and 11 in 2004 about Family Courts amended in 2005;
• Egyptian Personal Status Law 25/1920 and its amendments by Laws enacted in 1979, 1985, 2005 and 2006;
• ILO Convention number 183 titled “Maternity Protection Convention”;
• Salwa El Antari, PhD, and Nefissa El Dessouki: Unpaid Labor of Women: Working for the Family in the Informal Economy of Egypt, the New Woman Foundation, Cairo, 2016
• Several Court of Appeal judgments
• The Arab Republic of Egypt Constitution of 2014;
• The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW);
• The Egyptian Criminal Code and its amendments
• The Egyptian Labor Law 12/2003
• The UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women
• Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (1969)
• Website of the Egyptian National Council for Women

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