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Egypt draft constitution article raises fears for women's rights
Leftist and liberal parties, groups voice 'deep concern' after draft constitution article promises gender equality 'without contradicting precepts of Islamic Law'
Ahram Online, Sunday 23 Sep 2012
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Women
Women played a key role in the Tahrir uprising that toppled president Mubarak (Photo: AP)

Following publication of Article 36 of the 'Rights and Duties' section of Egypt's draft constitution, a number of political parties, coalitions and public figures have issued a joint statement expressing their "deep concern" for the draft article's wording, which, they say, could compromise women's historical rights.

The wording as it currently stands reads: "The state is committed to taking all constitutional and executive measures to ensure equality of women with men in all walks of political, cultural, economic and social life, without contradicting the precepts of Islamic Law."

The article adds: "The state will provide all necessary services for mothers and children for free, and will secure for women protection, along with social, economic and medical care and the right to inheritance, and will ensure a balance between the woman's family responsibilities and work in society."

Critics fear that the wording of the draft article is a convoluted detour around equal rights between men and women, due to the ambiguity over the phrase "without contradicting the precepts of Islamic Law."

The statement was issued by the Egyptian Social Democratic Party and endorsed by the Popular Socialist Coalition, the Free Egyptians party, the Popular Current, the New Woman Organisation, the Woman and Memory Organisation, Al-Nadeem Centre and a number of others. The statement was also signed by several public figures, including Mohamed Abul-Ghar, George Ishaq, Khaled Youssef and Sakina Fouad. More signatures are currently being collected online and via petitions.

The statement also stresses that such unclear wording "endangers the democracy that everyone aspired for and sacrificed for," stating that the struggle of Egyptian women throughout history should guarantee them the rights they had already gained historically on the basis of equal citizenship. Such rights should not be reduced, the statement added, noting that such a reduction would contradict Egypt's commitments to international charters and agreements.

The reason behind this stipulation, the statement warned, is the Constituent Assembly's largely Islamist representation, which, it claimed, was willing to bargain on the rights of women. The statement went on to say that the constitutional referendum should not be put up to a single yes-or-no vote, but rather be voted upon section-by-section. It added that the approval rate for amendments to pass should also be raised to 75 per cent, and that public debate on the constitution should be increased beyond the 15 days currently planned after the draft constitution is completed.

The statement goes on to urge that, if the article is passed as is, then all women and independent Constituent Assembly members should resign to protest "this unacceptable inequality."

The constituent Assembly has already suffered a number of withdrawals, when the 'Egyptian Bloc' parties – including the Free Egyptians, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party and the leftist Tagammu Party – initiated a walk-out,  followed by the Karama Party, the Socialist Popular Alliance Party and the Democratic Front Party, to allow greater representation for women, young people and Coptic-Christians, while also registering their objection to "Islamist monopolisation" of the assembly.

Meanwhile, the troubled assembly still faces the risk of dissolution by court order in September on grounds that it was drawn up by the People's Assembly, the since-dissolved lower house of Egypt's parliament.  





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Jean Weeks
24-09-2012 01:48pm
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VOTE
Ladies, the way to fight injustice against women is to vote only for people who will represent your interests. Obviously, this is not the Islamists. If they considered you equal to men, they would merely state in the constitution that equality will not be denied on account of gender.
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Michelle Winther
24-09-2012 01:14pm
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Constitution
I would like to see the old constitution and compare.
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Andrew Arato
24-09-2012 03:31am
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women's rights in the constitution
Egypt is already committed to women's rights in the international covenants and treaties the country signed. Any such reservation as in the proposal is unacceptable, not only to active Egyptian women, but the international community as well.
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Dina
24-09-2012 01:28am
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So Ignorant
Why would they even add this phrase in the mix?? It is against Islamic law, and HUMAN law to not treat women and equals to men, PERIOD! Why doe this not apply to articles relating to men, or people in general? Why must they make exceptions? These people want to keep this little phrase in there, because it is ambiguous and will allow these disgusting Islamists to interpret it they way they see fit. These people have not respect for women, or people of other religious orientation and this is un-Islamic. I wish I understood why they care SO much about what women are doing, women they are not even related to! Its a way of control because these people are sick and have no clue about democracy, but it cannot be allowed.
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Randy
23-09-2012 09:31pm
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Women and Islamic Laws
The Islamic law was written by a man in his interpretation, the constituation was also writen by a man, Let common sense prevail, women are Gems to love and treat with respect, they are not slaves and should be treated with equal rights. They work just as hard as men. God has given people power to use wisely and not discriminate. If the scales are not balanced someone is being cheated. Let's be fair and stop interpertating the Islamic laws in such a way as to keep women down.
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Carole T
23-09-2012 08:35pm
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Inequality via constitution
By putting reference to Islamic law it discriminates against the Copts and other minority non-Muslim religions in Egypt. The constitution should be without bias and should provide equality to all. Leave out the reference to Islamic law and it may pass referendum but the fact the the Administrative Court has just ruled that the Parliment is not to be reconvened means that the Constituant Assembly is also not legal as it was chosen by the now defunct Parliment.
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someone in cairo
23-09-2012 05:48pm
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I don't want islam
I don't want Islam anymore, following a 7th century superstition just seems absolutely pointless and stands in the way of progress. I quit this religion.
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A woman
24-09-2012 08:30pm
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Imported from India
Oh Mona! The Arabs did not invent those numbers, they imported 'their' numbers from India, didn't you know this???
shujath
24-09-2012 02:11pm
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ISLAM IS NOT SUPERSTITIOUS
Islam is not a superstitious religion. Every teaching of Islam is beneficial. By the Democracy also has not been able to end poverty. So do you say following democracy is also pointless ?
Dina
24-09-2012 01:33am
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Don't let these idiots hijack your religion
I understand your anger and disappointment, but try not to blame the religion, which in its trueness is peaceful and fair. Blame the idiots who are trying to hijack it and use it for their own purposes. Trust me when I tell you most of these "Islamists" do not understand Islam or even care to. They are hypocrites and liars. Islam is progressive, but it is the idiots who want to go back and live in the 7th century who are a threat to progress. Ask these Salafists why they are driving cars, if they want to emulate the Prophet so bad? I may not know a lot of things about Mohamed (PBUH) but I am pretty certain he didn't drive.
Mona
23-09-2012 08:02pm
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somone in cairo
Stop using Arabic numbers, the West progressed in science and technologies thanks to Arab mathematicians, while at the time Europe was in the Dark Age
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Info Please
23-09-2012 04:58pm
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More information needed
It would be interesting to know what the wording was on women's equality in the last constitution and what changes are being proposed. Could you add this information to the article? Thank you
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Mary Mourad
26-09-2012 01:59pm
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Similar terms but different implications
The old constitution had similar terms, but the implications could be different. Please read more detailed article http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/53769.aspx
makes sense
23-09-2012 06:35pm
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Be Just even when you deal with the enemies
I like to know the wording truely as in the pre connstitution draft constitution if any
makes sense
23-09-2012 06:35pm
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Be Just even when you deal with the enemies
I like to know the wording truely as in the pre connstitution draft constitution if any
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Kariman, Helwan
23-09-2012 04:09pm
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Extremists
Women will be stripped from their rights given to them by Islam. Do not beleive Brotherhood of Kazabeens. They are porven guilty by the Supreme Court for lying and forging. Allah Qabeer Ya Beni Misr.
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