Egypt's National Dialogue to discuss pertinent divorce-related issues on Thursday

Habiba Hamdy , Wednesday 2 Aug 2023

The Family and Community Cohesion Committee of the National Dialogue will discuss divorce-related issues including alimony in its meeting on Thursday.



The committee will discuss a woman's right to a larger part of the assets of her deceased husband which were created during the marriage, in addition to her inheritance as guaranteed by Islamic jurisprudence.

Under Islamic jurisprudence, an old principle of "toil and endeavour" entitles a widow to financial compensation, besides her legal inheritance, for her material and moral efforts in creating her husband's wealth.

The principle was first introduced during the reign of the second Islamic caliph, Omar Ibn El-Khattab, who applied it to his own wife.

In 2022, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed El-Tayeb championed the implementation of the principle in inheritance matters to account for wives' contributions in creating the wealth of their families in modern times.

The committee will also tackle Article 11 of Family Law 25/1929, which stipulates that a woman who refuses to "obey" her husband can be stripped of her financial rights, including maintenance compensation during the marriage, and alimony.

Disobedience under the law encompasses a wife's refusal to return to the matrimonial home following a court order filed by the husband requiring her to do so.

A woman could be deemed disobedient (nashiz) and stripped of her legal rights if she does not return home within 30 days after the notice. 

The law is routinely used by some husbands to cripple their wives' attempts to seek divorce and delays the legal process. 

A draft proposal for amending the country's family law, which was introduced to the parliament in 2019 has not made its way out of Parliament yet.

The draft law stipulates changes in child custody, polygamy, wives' obedience, and customary (urfi) marriages.

The National Council for Women (NCW) has called for the complete cancellation of laws imposing obedience on wives.

The Social Committee has previously discussed female guardianship laws in case of the father's death or divorce.

More recently, the committee also addressed proposals for introducing a unified anti-violence law to protect women from domestic violence, as many husbands escape culpability for violence against wives through Section 60 of the Criminal Code.

Section 60 stipulates that "the provisions of the penal code shall not apply to any deed committed in good faith as determined by the Islamic Shari'a," with good faith here usually interpreted as a beating which is deemed "not severe or not fatal."

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