Egyptian Parliament (Reuters)
Parliamentary discussions on the long-awaited personal status law are soon to be held, revealed MPs Fayka Fahim and Inas Abdel-Halim in separate statements on Tuesday and Wednesday.
"Parliament has been under public pressure for four years to pass a new personal status law. We should positively respond to this pressure and discuss the law in its final legislative season 2019-20."
The legislation is expected to regulate marriage, divorce, and children's custody.
The majority of Egyptians believed the current law 100/1985 was outdated and unjust, she said, adding that "it resulted in a dramatic rise in divorce rates, made it difficult for people to earn their rights, and negatively affected their economic and social well-being."
Abdel-Halim, deputy chairman of parliament's Health Committee, said the legislation in effect, though amended several times, had failed to address the needs of Egyptian Muslims and Christians. It even "led to the exacerbation of family problems, leaving negative psychological effects on children and undesired repercussions on social stability."
Both women said that what made the time ripe for drafting a new personal status law was that Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam's prominent institution, recently revealed it had revised a law parliament referred to it on the subject. The National Council of Women said it had been working for a long time on its own version of a law that it said would protect women's rights and promote children's best interests.
The legislation Al-Azhar revised shall regulate the controversial issues of Urfi marriage and alimony paid to divorced women.
Al-Azhar’s draft seeks to regulate the termination of engagements as well. It proposes that, in the event of cancelling an engagement, a woman shall have the right to keep the customary gift (shabka) presented by the fiancé should he call the engagement off, but must return it should she end the engagement.
Egypt’s three Christian churches have also finalised their own draft. The Coptic Orthodox Church condones divorce only if one partner committed adultery or changed their religion. The Catholic Church forbids divorce entirely, and the Evangelical Church allows it according to very limited conditions.