Discrimination of Women in 2005
Women marginalized within Political Parties and by Governmental Violence
The year 2005 was marked by exciting events on all levels, especially the political level, which saw the first presidential election in Egypt’s history as well as parliamentary elections in which women suffered discrimination by both political parties and government-sanctioned violence. ECWR prepared a report documenting the outcomes for women in 2005, a year in which the marginalization of women was continuous at all levels (political, legal, and social). Women’s issues, therefore, still remain at concern at all levels.
At the political level:
The trend of violence against women by the police spread as women were tortured and used as hostages for political and intimidation reasons. In particular, the women of Sarandow were subjected to beatings, humiliation, torture, and physical and sexual abuse. This proliferation of violence even led to the death of Nefisa Zakria El-Marakby of Sarandow village, who was beaten by a police officer from the Damanhour Center after her arrest on March 13, 2005 as she was being evicted from her land. During this same incident, the police also randomly arrested 13 women and 5 children and put them in jail without any leveling any charges against them.
In the Sinai, women were arrested by the police on July 25, 2005 in an attempt to put pressure on their family members for whom the police were searching.
Women journalists were also subjected rights’ violations and sexual harassment by state security on May 25, 2005, as they demonstrated in front of the journalists’ syndicate to express about their opinions about article number 76 of the Constitution and the referendum. Since these events, the general attorney has not released any information about the impact of these abuses and transgressions.
Poor women were also exploited by Mubarak’s presidential campaign, the National Democratic Party, and some governmental organizations during the presidential election on September 7, 2005. Women were gathered and transferred to the polling centers using bribes in order to make them vote for the NDP candidate. This indicates the marginalized position and perception of women within society as they are systematically exploited for political reasons. The results of the parliamentary elections were also frustrating, and despite high hopes for women, their performance was ultimately disappointing. In addition, many women were forced to run as independents because the established political parties did not nominate women to their election lists. Women therefore faced very difficult circumstances in their campaigns, not excluding violence, specifically the murder of So’ad Te’alab during the parliamentary elections. The final results of the parliamentary elections indicate the reality of the low position and marginalization of women in Egypt’s political life as women comprised only 1.9 percent of parliament in 2005, compared to 2.4 percent in the 2000 parliament.
A police office blinded a woman on December 21, 2005 when he hit her with his gun.
A female journalist named Asma’a Herez was subjected to torture, humiliation, and sexual abuse by the police, leading to injuries all over her body, as she held a press conference in Shuba El-Khima during the parliamentary elections. This incident evoked memories of the movie El-Karnek in which the same situation happened to So’ad Husny.
At the same time, the consultant “Noha El-Zeni” was eliminated from the third phase in the parliamentary election after she denounced the elections as a sham to an independent newspaper.
The trend of violence against women teachers is also spreading, including the recent incident on December 15, 2005, during which a student slapped his teacher five times, grabbed her by the hair and dragged her through the classroom because the teacher prevented him from entering the class late.
In addition, we must mention the incident on August 24, 2005 of a female teacher being beaten and almost killed by a police officer from the state security because she asked why the Alexandria school El-Gezera was being destroyed.
At the legal level:
In 2005, there was a change in the article no 20 from the law no 25, 1929 in the personal status judgments. The amendment was increase the age of the custody for the mothers to 15 for the son after it was 10 years for boys, and daughters 12 years for girls. Then the children are chosen after they reach to this age if they want to stay with the mother without alimony. This isn’t solution for the women, specially that the Egyptian woman hasn’t housing in the Egyptian law after the end of the custody, there no way except her family house because the law make her responsible of selecting the house and make it available for her children, that makes her without housing.
Although the law of nationality is changed in 2004, but the children of Egyptian wife who are married from Palestinian, are still without Egyptian nationality.
The family courts saw 12 thousands of paternity suits, most of them are from the tourism or common marriage (Urfi), because the law is weak in confronting such these cases and also there are many procedures in this cases and it is complicated, the court couldn’t judge fast in these cases.
Before the end of the year, two new women ministers were appointed in ministry council, the total of the ministers 30.
Finally, 2005 didn’t see any changes for women at the health and educational level. For the housewife wasn’t cared, whence 15% of families are cared by women.
According to ECWR is focusing mainly on supporting women who are have real interest in the change. So ECWR is working with them on making political and legislation changes which achieve the interests of marginalization people specially the women.