The Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights
Report on the Status of Egyptian Women in 2010
Postponed Rights in the State’s council and Temporary Rights in the Parliament
Nehad Aboul Komsan
Chair of ECWR
ECWR Research Unit
NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nation
The refusal of the State Council to appoint female judges was one of the most important public issues in the first half of 2010. The most important issue in the second half related to women, was their participation in the parliamentary elections within the quota system.
This year witnessed many other events important to women, and some steps forward and others back for women’s status. Most changes were negative, however, and reflected a social regression of Egyptian women. Women held various leadership positions, which demonstrated a degree of political and social tolerance. Any appointment of a woman anywhere is notable and these appointments receive ample news attention. Everyone faces both political and economic pressure, and women, in addition to that, must face discrimination, violence, and a lack of protection.
On the level of positions of leadership and decision making, a number of women were appoint to leadership and decision-making positions for the first time. For instance, a female was appointed president of Tanta University and is only the second woman in Egypt to hold such a position. A woman became the head of the administrative office of the New Urban Communities Authority, three women became vice presidents of the administrative office of the New Urban Communities Authority, and many women became heads of youth center.
Related to economic development, some people described 2010 as “the year of sit-ins.” Protests were held that expressed Egyptians’ anger and frustration. Such sit-ins were held on the medical, educational, and professional levels. There were also many protests against sexual harassment and sexual assault.
Rates of violence against women increased, the problem of girls’ suicide is increasing also. The reasons behinds these suicides and attempted suicides ranged from dealings with violence in the family, poor economic conditions, and lack of job opportunities.
The number of recorded violent crimes committed against women total 1,306, sexual harassment crimes made up 933 (71.4%) of these crimes. Newspapers informed us about many accidents in which a number of young men tried to break in schools and harass girls. Girls are also harassed by their teachers, and security forces of the universities committed many crimes such as harassment, hitting and detaining girls.
Domestic violence was the second most common violent crime: there were 140 recorded cases (10.7%). Perhaps even worse is that the social acceptibility of domestic violence increased. According to the report of 2010 Youth Survey published by the Information Center, two thirds of young men believe that domestic violence is justified in some situations.
Other violence crimes included: rape (98 cases, 7.5%), honor crimes (84 cases, 6.4%), violent crimes by security forces (29 cases, 2.2%), and institutional violence (22 cases, 1.6%). Cases of psychological violence, can often be just as harmful as physically violent crimes, were also noted. Furthermore, information technology crimes are on the rise due to the spread of modern technology and its misuse. Finally, medical neglect is also included on the list as it led to women’s deaths.
Women were also used as tools to exacerbate sectarian strife; this represents another form of violence. For instance, some Christian girls disappeared. Some Muslims and Christians demonstrated to support those Christians who pretended to disappear (except for Wafaa Konstantin, who was forced to disappear). There were also tens of thousands of women and girls living in the streets, having lost their homes and been subjected to both sexual and institutional violence.
Arab women are still subjected to violence and discrimination. In Khartoum, police beat a girl for wearing pants. In Saudi Arabia, fatwas (advisory opinions) that deprive women of their basic rights at work are still issued, such as the fatwa that banned women from working as cashiers. Despite of all this, the Arab women did not give up and they participated in the legislative elections in many countries to claim their rights of political participation and decision-making. They also made progress in literary field, as there were seven Arab female writers included in the Arab version of Booker Prize.
On the global scale, violence against women topped the list of violence in the Islamic world. In Iran, for example, a ruling of lashing woman until death was issued because she committed adultery. In Afghanistan, a girl’s nose was cut as her punishment for running away from her martial home. Furthermore, there are many issued Islamic laws offending women and Islam. On a positive note, women became at the top of the political scene in many countries and, in Brazil and Costa Rica, women were elected president.
This report monitors Egyptian women’s status by analyzing national and international reports, the daily newspapers (Al Ahram, Akhbar, El–Gomhoria, Al Masry El Youm, Doustor, Nahdet Masr, Wafd, El Shorouq, El Ahrar, El Hayat), weekly newspapers (El Esbou, El Youm El Sabea), and many other weekly magazines that discuss women’s issues.
This report includes monitoring and analysis of Arab, Egyptian and global women’s status in 2010 in all areas.
Contents of the report:
1. Women’s political participation and leadership
2. Women in political parties
3. State’s Council
4. Women and economic life
5. Access to justice, personal freedom and equal opportunities
6. Girls’ education
7. Women in the workforce
• Sit-ins and strikes
• Egyptian women’s status abroad
8. Violence against women
• Sexual harassment
• Honor crimes
• Domestic violence
• Institutional violence
• Psychological violence
• Using women as a tool to increase sectarian strife
• Female genital mutilation
• Human trafficking
• Personal affairs
9. Draft resolution on women’s issues
10. Women’s fatwa (advisory opinions)
11. Studies and reports
12. Women in the media and the role of the civil society
13. Women in the news in the Arab world
14. Women in the world
1. Women’s political participation and leadership
In the 2010 Gender Gap Report of the World Economic Forum, Egypt ranked 125th out of the 134 ranked countries for gender equality. The Freedom House Report discussed women in the Middle East at the end of 2009. The report addressed women’s status, their political and civil rights, and government suppression of protests against the lack of democracy. A small number of women participated in the elections in the recent years, both as candidates and voters. The parliament passed a new legislation that specified a number of seats for women in the People’s Assembly. The report also included information about elections and how they often lack security and proper monitoring. Some females and some female candidates were forced to leave voting stations because of the candidates that they supported.
This past year witnessed political activities, increased discussion of political reform, and the formation of many coalitions and unions that aim to reform Egyptian political life. This political movement is witnessed through the declaration of opposing parties to run into the parliamentary and Shura elections as a coalition, which included all the political sects and consisted of 22 political parties and movements.
Although there were no constitutional or legal restrictions on women’s political participation in political parties, the parliament, or the government, there remains gaps between de facto law and de jure law. This gap is largely due to societal attitudes, which can affect women’s political participation more than the law itself. The heavy restrictions and limits put on women’s participation in politics in Egypt are also a result of the conflict between the old and new political parties.
1. Shura Council:
The results of the 2010 elections of the Shura Council and the People’s Assembly will play a large role in determining the candidates of the upcoming presidential elections. This encouraged political parties to participate in the elections.
There were 16 female candidates in the Shura Council:
• Fifi Ahmad Ali Muhammad (Independent, Cairo)
• Huda Muhammad Amin Fares (Independent, Helwan)
• Amal Rezk Ahmad Zaghlol (Independent, Al Beheira)
• Awatef Alsayed Alsayed Abdel Fattah (Independent, Talkha, Qualiubia)
• Nahed Abdel Latif Salem (Independent, Qualiubia)
• Ne’ma Galal Sayed (Al Ahrar Party, Sanoras, Al Fayoum)
• Fayza Muhammad Abdullah Khalil (Independent, Kos, Qena)
• Huda Ahmad Yousef (Al Tagammu’ Party, Qena)
• Zeinab Muhammad Goma’a (Independent, Qena)
• Amira Abdel Fattah (Independent, Al Minia)
• Huda Tablawy (NDP, Kafr El Sheikh)
The following people withdrew from the elections after submitting their papers:
• Huda Ibrahim Ali Nassar (Al Sharkia)
• Manal Mubarak (Suez)
• Ahlam Abu-Bakr Ali Goma’a (Al Minia)
• Setteira Muhammad Gad (labor, Independent, Kafr Sakr, Al Sharkia)
• Ibtesam Zeidan (Independent, Aswan)
Out of the 24 political parties in Egypt, only three parties (Al Tagammu’, Al Ahrar, and the National Democratic Party) nominated women. Most parties’ promises to nominate women were not kept.
The elections resulted in the winning of only one woman (Huda Tablawy, NDP, Kafr El Sheikh). Then, a Presidential decree was issued to employ 44 members, including 11 female candidates and 2 Christians. They are: Iglal Abdel Mineim Hafez, Eva Habil Kirls, Samia Shenouda Girgis, Alia Muhammad Abdel Moneim Al Mahdy, Aziza Ahmad Yousef, Ola Omar Mokhtar, Farkhonda Muhammad Hassan, Manal Hussein Abdel Razek, Huda Muhammad Rashad Abdel Aziz, Salwa Sha’rawy Goma’, and Seham Muhammad Ezz Eldein Saleh.
2. The People’s Assembly:
The 2010 parliamentary elections were important as the quota system was applied for the first time after amendments were passed to law no. 38 on the People’s Assembly. The law stated that additional electoral constituencies will be added in order to nominate 64 female candidates. The quota system will remain for two legislative terms (10 years). At least two candidates are to be elected in each constituency – one ‘farmer’ and one ‘laborer’. Also, it is worth mentioning that the quota system was previously applied in 1979.
The quota system encourages women to participate in political life. The total number of nominated female candidates was 1047.
Party NDP Al Tagammu’ Al Wafd Muslim Brotherhoods Al Nassery Total
Nominated Females 992 10 13 25 7 1047
These numbers do not include the women in the coalition of the political parties that included 7 parties and nominated 350 candidates, and other female independent candidates.
Comparing these numbers with the nominations of 2000 and 2005, we find that women’s participation in the electoral process on the level of women as female candidates has increased.
Elections of year 2000 2005 2010
Numbers of female candidates 121 127 1047
Above: a chart illustrating the increased numbers of female candidates in the electoral process.
On December 7, 2010, the High Elections Commission announced the official results of the 2010 People’s Assembly elections. 380 women candidates competed for quota seats and 2 of them won uncontested in 6th October and Beni Suef. Thus, the total number of female candidates running for quota seats became 378, while 76 female candidates competed for the regular seats.
65 female candidates won, including 62 of them on quota seats and two women who won regular seats in the constituencies of Dokki in Giza and the 15th Agga in Dakahlia. The elections were postponed in Kafr El Sheikh, while Amina Shafik, a journalist and a member of Al Tagammu’ party, was appointed and thus, the total number of women in parliament became 65 female members in 2010.
The National Democratic Party took 56 seats for women from the total number of seats, the independent female candidates got 8 seats and one female candidate was appointed.
NDP Independents Appointed
56 quota seats 8 1
Below is a chart illustrating the results of women in the parliamentary elections:
S. Constituency Female Candidate The party Total
(First Constituency) Zeinab Radwan
Sahar Othman NDP – professional
NDP- Labor 2
(Second Constituency) Mafiha Khattab
Al Seidy NDP – professional
NDP- Labor 2
3. Helwan Fatema Muhammad Ibrahim
Fayza Hasabu NDP – professional
NDP- Labor 2
4. Alexandria Nadia Abdu
Soad Saleh NDP – professional
NDP- Labor 2
5. Qualiubia Jihan Halawa
Nagah Idrees NDP – Labor (quota)
NDP-professional (quota) 2
6. Minoufia Fatema Al Shafe’y
Baheiga Abdel Fattah NDP – professional
NDP- Labor 2
7. Sharkia Hayat Abdoun
Fardous Abu Hashem NDP – professional (quota)
NDP- Labor (quota) 2
8. Al Beheira Amal Abdel Hady
Abeir Al Zakm NDP – professional
NDP- Farmer 2
9. Kafr El Sheikh The results are postponed until the end of the elections in Tala
10. Damietta Samia El Zeiny
Wafa’a Al Mandoh NDP-Professional
NDP – Labor
11. Ismailia Salwa Farrag
Mageda Al Newishy NDP- Professional
Wafd- Labor 2
12. Port Said Fayza Abul Naga
Soad Hussein NDP – professional
NDP- Labor 2
13. Suez Fawzia Abdullah
Zeinab Al Bahady NDP – professional
NDP- Labor 2
14. North Sinai Sawsan Hegab
Sabha Ibrahim Hasan NDP – professional
NDP- Labor 2
15. Souhag (the first constituency) Heba Al Attar
Zahia Abdeellatif NDP – professional
NDP- Labor 2
16. Souhag (the second constituency) Mageda Mahmoud
Hwaida Gaber NDP – professional
NDP- Farmer 2
17. Gharbia Nagla’ De’ebas
Salwa Emara NDP – professional
NDP- Labor 2
18. Qena Nahla Fathy
Laila Mahmoud Khalifa Independent – professional
Independent – Labor 2
19. Luxor Salwa Salah Eddin Nour
Huda Muhammad Khalil NDP- Farmer
Independent- Labor 2
20. New Valley Nagwa Wa’er
Mona Zaker NDP – professional
Independent- Labor 2
21. South Sinai Mona Salem Ouda
Galila Awad Hussein NDP – professional
NDP- Farmer 2
22. Matrouh Salima Abdel Reheim
Nagia Zaied NDP – professional
NDP- Labor 2
23. Giza Amal Othman
Ekbal Al Samalloty
Khadiga Othman Dokki Constituency, NDP – Professional
Quota- NDP – Professional
Quota- NDP- Farmer 1
24. 6the of October Mo’mena Kamel
Nermeen Badrawy NDP – professional
NDP- Farmer 2
25. Fayoum Azza Hawas
Aesha Abdel Tawab NDP – professional
NDP- Labor 2
26. Bani Swaif Noha Farag
Abeer Hussein NDP – professional
NDP- Labor 2
27. Al Minia Iman Abdel Hakim
Hanem Hassan Abdel Wafa NDP – professional
NDP- Labor 2
28. Aswan Mona Shaker
Iman Sa’d Mahmoud Independent- Labor
NDP – Farmer 2
29. Asiout Mona Mustafa
Alia Abu Ghadeir NDP – professional
NDP- Labor 2
30. Red Sea Hanan Farouk
Amal Muhammad Gad Allah NDP – professional
NDP- Labor 2
31. Dakahlia Laila Rafe’ Constituency no.15, Aga, NDP-Farmer 1
32. Dakahlia (First Constituency- Quota) Fardous Abdel Fattah
Gawaher Al Sherbeiny NDP – professional (quota)
NDP- Labor (quota) 2
33. Dakahlia (Second Constituency- Quota) Wageiha Al Tab’ey
Rakia Masoud NDP – professional (Quota)
NDP- Labor (Quota) 2
34. Regular Constituency Laila EL Refaiy 15th Constituency, Aga, (NDP-Farmer) 1
The 2010 parliamentary elections were marred by fraud and violence, which many politicians had warned of in advance. Sixteen individuals were killed and electoral bribery was widespread. The price of a vote ranged from 20 to 1000 pounds. Moreover, voting stations were closed earlier than they were supposed to in order to prevent those who were not supporting NDP from voting. In these cases, only NDP supporters were allowed to vote. In some instances, women were gathered and used for committing acts of bullying and violence. There were mistakes in the electoral lists such as the listing of dead people. The elections were marked by widespread fraud and cheating.
2. Women in political parties
Women’s status in political parties is weak in general, for there is a noticeable difference between women’s appointment to decision-making positions inside the party, the high bodies, the general secretariat and the partisan committees. Although there are 24 political parties, the whole situation refers to a weak representation of women in the political parties. Despite the weak representation of women in the parties, there is a clear role played by female leaders; for Mrs. Asmahan Shokry was chosen to be the first president of Labor party.
Preparation and coordination of the Shura elections:
Most political parties had trouble preparing and coordinating for the parliamentary elections. The situation was even worse regarding women as most parties did not pay special attention to the role of women. Some of the opposition parties have ideologies that indicate that they would be especially concerned about women and their participation in political life. Despite this positive ideology, many of them still did not effectively address the issue of women’s political participation. The Shura elections that were held at the beginning of June 2010 reflected the real picture of women’s partisan status in Egypt and also reflected the reality of parties’ role in moving women’s issue and affecting women’s political role in the society that is about to be nothing. All of the political parties marginalized women’s role in the parties’ committees and other bodies. The marginalization of women was made clear in parties’ nominations of women to their lists in the Shura elections. Out of the 24 political parties, only three parties nominated women: Al Tagammu’, Al Ahrar, and NDP, with percentage of 12.5%. The percentage of parties’ nominations did not exceed 1%, since each party nominated one woman. This signals that the most parties’ platforms for women’s participation are just for political propaganda. They are not actually implemented and women’s political participation is a mere illusion.
NDP nominated only one woman out of 76 candidates; in contrast to the electoral program that President Mubarak’s put forth in all his speeches. Parties’ participation is limited; for the number of participating candidates was as following: 10 candidates from Al Wafd, 9 from Al Tagammu’, 4 from Al Ahrar, 3 from the Democratic Generation, 2 from the Free Republican, 2 from Al Ghad, 2 from the Nasserite and the Constitutional Party, and 1 from Labor, 1 from Misr, and 1 from Al Salam. Al Tagammu’ party’s nomination of one woman indicates the absence of women cadres in the parties.
Moreover, the financial costs of the electoral propaganda very high. Al Tagammu’ party is socialist and therefore does not have capitalist businessmen. Thus, the rule in this party is that each candidate shall cover the costs of his or her electoral campaign materials. Al Ahrar party nominated only one woman out of its 4 candidates, which shows the absence of women cadres in the parties. Three people competed for the Al Wafd presidency: Mahmoud Abaza, Sayed Al Badawy, and Iglal Salem (the first woman nominated for the presidency of Al Wafd party). However, neither the media nor the voters cared about her existence in the electoral process, and the competition was essentially between Al Badawy and Abaza. Furthermore, the candidates themselves ignored her as a competitor.
Preparation and coordination of the Parliamentary elections:
The parliamentary elections were especially important for a number of reasons. They ensure reform, at least to some extent, of the parliament and the government after the changes in the 2005 elections (such as the disappearance of large parties like Al Wafd, Al Tagammu’ and the Nasserite; whose share did not exceed 8 seats of 454, and as the large representation of Muslim Brotherhoods who got 88 seats, 20% of the parliament). Also, it is the first parliamentary election after the amendment of article 88 that deals with the judicial supervision on the elections and thus it has a great role in the upcoming 2011 presidential elections.
The general secretary of the National Democratic Party presented a unified electoral program for the parliamentary elections based on many promises in response to many Egyptians’ requests. Despite NDP’s preparations for the elections since the very beginning of the year, the party did not announce its final list of candidates until October 5, 2010. And, even though NDP has many female cadres able to run in the elections, it did not identify the female candidates until shortly before the elections. Moreover, the nominations in the electoral colleges raised many problems inside the party, which resulted in the party taking various steps to hinder women’s nominations.
Al Wafd party prepared for the elections from the beginning of the year. The president of al Wafd party assured the public that the party would run in all the upcoming elections. Still, a group within the group proposed boycotting the elections because there was no guarantee of free and fair elections. Thus, the party was divided into two groups: one that supported running in the elections and the other who opposed it. The party declared that it would run in the elections with 250 candidates in all the constituencies: 30 of them were women, representing 12%.
Some within the party wanted Iglal Salem, the female candidate who ran for the party’s presidency, to be fired. She angered many because she ran in the party’s internal elections, with the pretext that she breached the party’s rulings. Mageda Al Neweshy, the only opposition female candidate in Al Wafd party who won the parliamentary elections, resigned from the party after the party’s declaration of withdrawal from the runoff elections.
Al Tagammu’ party sought a practical and tangible solution to fund female candidates. The progressive Women’s Federation of the party decided to establish a fair of durable goods and to specify its return to support female candidates because of the weak abilities of the party in providing the necessary financial supplies for the electoral propagandas. The party ran in the elections though the party was divided into two groups: one of them supported participating in the elections and the other wanted to boycott it. The party ran in the elections with 69 candidates; nine of whom were females.
The Nasserite party was unable to support its female candidates. These candidates’ support was limited to the media candidates, which increased burden of female candidates, especially after the increasing of the quota electoral constituencies. The party participated in the elections with 7 female candidates (11.4%) and 61 male candidates.
Al Ahrar party was the first to announce its electoral lists. It nominated 52 candidates in 17 governorates and 7 female candidates to quota seats, representing 13.4% of the total. The Free Republican Party announced the nomination of its 10 female candidates in the parliamentary elections, and nothing was mentioned about a unified program to the party or any propaganda or financial support for the candidates. Thus, the electoral funding was on an individual basis.
The other political parties, Al Ghad, Al Ahrar, Egypt Arab Socialist Party, Al Khodr, Al Takafol, and Egypt Youth, formed a coalition. This coalition aimed to hold fair parliamentary elections under judicial supervision. The coalition decided to run into the elections with a unified list of 350 female candidates in 82 constituencies. The number of women and their participation percentage were not clear. The coalition formed a high committee to administer the elections of its candidates, and a fund supported by the coalition’s parties to solve the problem of financial support within the financial deficit. It identified its stance towards the participation in the elections and refused the calls to boycott the elections, as the coalition considered boycotting to be a way to avoid the electoral process.
3. State Council
Women held many positions in different judicial institutions throughout Egypt’s recent history. In 1958, the number of women working at the Administrative Prosecution Authority was more than 1,500. In 1978 during President Sadat’s presidency, State issues were tackled by women and now there are 137 women, 39 of whom are vice presidents of the authority.
In 2003, Women held positions in the Supreme Constitutional Court, and Mrs. Tahany El Gebaly now holds the position of the vice president of the court. The court has two women holding the position of commissioner in the tribunal.
Now, there are 42 female judges. Yet, the General Assembly of the State’s Council refused to appoint women to positions of assistant representatives in the council, upon the announcement of the special council’s statement. The special council includes the head of the state’s council and 6 of its oldest members. The statement included for the first time the permission to those who are interested in holding the declared positions, in case that their qualifications match with the conditions. The conditions of the job were as follows: the applicants must be of the first 15 students at each faculty and each one of them must have very good grades. At Al Mansoura University, there were more female applicants than male applicants (39 females and 35 males). After processing all the applications, 433 male applicants and 193 female ones were qualified according to the conditions. Yet, surprisingly, the special council refused to employ females on the pretext that this job requires hard work that women could not handle.
The decision was shocking and contradicts the principle of equality that is stated in the constitution. In facing the reaction whose refusal became clear according to the State Council’s decision, the council – according to its terms of reference – held a meeting, on February 21, to discuss the decision of suspended employments. Yet, the members had different opinions, so that the head of the council decided to issue his decision based on the fact that the statement of employing male and female judges was issued with the special council members’ consent before it was changed. Thus, he claimed, the previous decision must be applied. Controversy ensued for two months and the High Constitutional Court claimed that woman’s deserve equal rights and should not be exposed to discrimination.
Despite this historical sentence, the decision of the special council to postpone the men and women’s employment for three months so that the matter could be formally addressed led to societal questioning. Who should women approach to claim their rights? The council’s decision showed the absence of legislative, constitutional and legal deterrents towards women’s employment, and also referred to some practical deterrents.
Consultant Adel Farghaly, the head of the committee that discusses the matter of women’s employment as judges in the state’s council, announced that women are not grown up enough to hold judicial positions. As evidence, he pointed to the fact that some women implement regressive agendas that seek the spread of niqab. That announcement was shocking, especially because it contradicts the bases of justice and law. In the application of law, sex or color or race should not be considered. This is outlined by article 40 of the Egyptian constitution, which states that “All citizens are equal before the law. They have equal public rights and duties without discrimination due to sex, ethnic origin, language, religion or creed.” The decision also contradicted the principles of citizenship and article 3 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which states that “The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to ensure the equal right of men and women to the enjoyment of all civil and political rights set forth in the present Covenant”, and also contradicts with Egypt’s pledges according to CEDAW.
4. Woman and economic life
The World Economic Forum’s 2010 Report on Gender Equality stated that Egypt’s position is so regressive, as the country cannot fill the gaps that exist between the two genders. Egypt was ranked 121 out of 134 countries in the field of economic participation.
Freedom House’s 2009 report on women’s status in Egypt and on the economic freedom and equal opportunities stated that women are still underrepresented in the work force. Yet, the number of women who hold jobs now is more than ever before (but the number of employed women decreased since 2004). However, these strides are threatened by the general economic deprivation in Egypt, which negatively and increasingly affects the middle class and the marginalized.
According to the 2007 Report of the World Economic Forum and the map of economic gaps between the genders, an economic index was designed to measure the gender gaps between access to available resources and opportunities in each country, instead of the real levels of the available resources and opportunities in these countries.
Egypt received a low ranking in the report: 42%. (100% according to the index means complete equality in reaching resources, while 0% means total inaccessibility for women). According to the International Labor Organization, marginalized women are the group that suffers the most out of all the work sectors because of the global economic crisis.
Egypt, which has one of the largest economies in the region, made some gains in economic participation and political empowerment. However, the country’s overall performance is still one of the worst in the region and the world.
According to the statements of the World Bank, there are some differences that are related to gender in the context of economic investment in Egypt.
• Combating corruption: the preference of women’s work is positively related to the spread of law and combating corruption,
• Reaching the lands, electricity and production requisites: companies owned by women (with percentage of 40%) suffer less from the losses in sales because of the electricity cuts. Companies owned by women lose 7% of the total sales, comparing to 5% for those owned by men.
• The legal requisites to start commercial business: companies owned by women suffer from legal restrictions more than companies owned by men. On average, they take more than 8 months to settle differences on the overdue payments. In addition, companies owned by women need 86 weeks to settle the differences on the overdue payments, while companies owned by men need about 8 weeks.
• Organizing work: companies owned by women in Egypt have fewer problems with the organization of personnel, which shows their ability and desire to work and fully commit to the organizational system of personnel in the country.
• The size of companies: There is a commonly held and false belief that companies owned by women are smaller and have small staffs. However, this is not actually true. 8% of the companies owned by women in the official sector are small companies, while more than 30% of the companies owned by women are large companies and have more than 250 employees. In Egypt, 5% of companies are owned by women and these companies, on the whole, are larger than the companies owned by men. However, men own a larger percentage of small businesses, and men and women own approximately the same percentage of the medium-sized companies. The percentage of companies owned by women is 40%.
• World Development Indicators (2008): The percentage of women in the labor force is 23%. There are efforts to make women join governmental and nongovernmental work.
Men Women The measure
77% 23% Work force
5. Access to justice, personal freedom and equal opportunities
Despite efforts to enhance Egyptian women’s status, there has not been sufficient improvement. Egypt achieved little progress concerning women’s access to justice, personal freedoms and equal opportunities. According to the monitoring reports of international organizations, the 2010 Gender Gap Report of the World Economic Forum revealed the inability of Egypt to overcome gender inequality. Egypt came towards the bottom of list of 134 ranked countries in the report: Egypt’s rank was 125. In addition, it was in the bottom of the list of the regional countries, ranked 13th. Israel and the United Arab Emirates were the best countries that could eliminate the gap between genders in Middle East and the Arab world. Then came Kuwait, Tunis, Bahrain, Mauritania, Lebanon, Qatar, Algeria, Jordon, Oman, and Syria; all of these countries preceded Egypt. North America was ranked the highest in this report, and the Middle East and North Africa countries were in the sixth and last rank of this report. Egypt’s ranks in the sub-indexes were as follows: 121 in the economic participation and opportunity, 110 in the educational attainment, 52 in health, and 125 in the political empowerment. The report’s income classifications divided countries into four categories: low income, lower-middle income, upper-middle income, and high income. Egypt was in the lower-middle income range.
The 2008 Human Development Report ranks Egypt 116 out of the 179 ranked countries. This ranking places Egypt in the middle category for human development. This index does not identify gender inequality or income inequality. Instead, we should view this index as a large-scale lens through which we can observe the complicated relationship between income, health care, education, and women’s participation in the work force.
According to the Amnesty International 2007 Report on Human Rights, women are still viewed as second-rate citizens from legal, political and practical perspectives in the Arab region. The Millennium Development Goals (MDG) address the social aspects of gender inequality. The MDG include the elimination of hunger and poverty, increased access to primary education, and women’s empowerment. The Millennium Development Goals that are related to Egypt aim to eliminate gender disparities in primary and secondary education by 2005, and to eliminate disparities in all other educational stages by 2015.
The Millennium Development Goals of Egypt include the improvement of maternal health and establishing a global partnership for development.
According to the expectations of the Population Pyramid 2010 in Egypt, the number of men will exceed that of women in the age range of 0 to 44 years. However, there will be more women than men aged 45 and older. The indicators of the index show that there is a burden of the old people who are supported by others (the larger part of the old supported people are women). This refers that the results of policy development, especially in the fields of education, and enhancing the participation of women and girls in the work field, will move backwards for a number of years in the total index of development for many reasons: (1) the number of males is larger than that of women (of the same age), (2) the number of females will be larger than that of men of the old age phase; whose response to development strategies is less flexible. In addition, we can expect that we will witness a regular increase in birth rates, even within the application of the firmest policies to control birth. This is so because of the large numbers of fertile age groups at the bottom of the pyramid, in comparison with those who are older than them (for instance, the policies of birth control may seem ineffective, even if they have a real effect on the ground).
Many reports on women’s status in Egypt discussed the necessity of developing programs that can change society’s values and beliefs – this is a prerequisite to achieving social and cultural rights.
The Freedom House Report monitored the changes in women’s status in Egypt over the span of five years. The chart below shows the results.
Results 2004 2009
Indiscrimination and the ability to resort to courts 2.8 3.0
Independence, security and personal freedom 2.8 2.9
Economic freedom and equal opportunities 2.8 2.9
Political and civil rights 2.7 2.7
Social and cultural rights 2.4 2.6
The measure ranges from 1 to 5: 1 represents the lowest rating and 5 represents the highest rating for respect of women’s rights.
According to the measures set by the report, the status of Palestinian women – who are living under occupation – is better than Egyptian women’s status. Women’s rank in the Maghreb countries is better than in Egypt.
Despite these discouraging statistics, there have been positive steps taken towards equality between men and women. A female member of the parliament was selected to be the first Egyptian and Arab woman to head the Women’s Committee of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. Another woman was appointed president of a university. Women were appointed to the position of marriage registrar, the head of a locality, and heads of youth centers.
6. Girls’ Education
The government established more girls’ primary schools in an attempt to even out the education gap between the genders. CEDAW guarantees that there will be changes in some curricula of a number of faculties of Egyptian universities, especially Faculty of Law. It also guarantees that the Ministry of Education will amend some of its educational curricula to comply with the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). However, according to the second shadow report of CEDAW in 2009, the government did not adopt the concept of rights or equality in the educational curricula, even though the CRC was incorporated into some curricula. They did not, however, reference CEDAW and there was a conflict in the concept of rights in the 2008 primary educational curricula. This content emphasizes the continuity of the stereotyped image of woman suited only for domestic work and motherhood. Men, on the other hand, are shown was powerful businessmen who do not have responsibilities within the household. Little boys’ role is to play and study, and girls’ role is to help their mothers with domestic chores. These stereotyped roles are apparently in the Arabic subject curricula for first and second years in primary school. The pictures show that the mothers’ role is limited to cooking in the kitchen and cleaning the house. The curricula for the later years of primary school, however, advocates enhancing the social role of women and stresses gender equality.
Educational policies and strategies did not include enough programs to make sure that students stay in school, especially girls from poor families who often sacrifice their education. According to the results of the 2010 survey of youth that was conducted by the Egyptian Cabinet’s Information and Decision Support Center (IDSC), more than 2 million people dropped out of school and 80% of them were females. These families, according to the reports of human development, are estimated at 48% of the total number of Egyptian families. In addition, there has been a decrease in the last five years in the number of female students who joined practical faculties such as faculties of medicine and engineering.
Despite the large bottom of the vocational pyramid of women in the field of education with vacancies of teachers and professors, they do not form more than 20% of the leader positions inside their educational institutions.
The General Authority for Literacy and Adult Education in Egypt has put up many roadblocks that detract from programs that aim to eliminate illiteracy, such as taking the national ID as a condition of joining the classes, and specifying an age group for students. Although associations assisted those outside of the specified age group, they did not cooperate to facilitate the issuing of documents and certificates that prove their freedom of illiteracy. Finally, the formal educational curricula at the sector of eliminating illiteracy did not respond to women’s needs or consider the geographical and gender diversity of the educational program.
7. Women in the workforce
Women in the workplace continue to suffer. Women have taken on a greater economic role: now women support 33% of Egyptian families. This is largely due to the government’s inability to provide services, rising unemployment rates, and increase privatization. This increased economic role, however, is not accompanied by increased rights inside the family or workplace.
Despite the dire need for women’s legal protection in the workplace, labor law does not sufficiently guarantee women’s rights. It does not allow women to take any vacations until they have worked for 10 months. Under the previous law, women were only required to work 6 months before taking time off. The law identified the vacation of child care to be unpaid for 90 days in two times, in condition that the number of employees shall exceed 50 ones. The law set the condition of providing 100 female employees in the same institution in order to provide them with a nursery for their children. In addition, women face salary discrimination on the basis of gender. At the beginning of employment, the main salaries of female employees are less than the male employees’ salaries. Women are prevented from being promoted and obtaining leadership positions. They are often treated as temporary employees who can be fired at any time without due cause. Female employees who work in agriculture and domestic services are especially deprived of legal protection. Many women also face sexual harassment in the workplace.
1. Strikes and sit-ins:
This year women participated frequently in strikes and sit-ins. Some described 2010 as the year of strikes, especially the first half of 2010 as protests and strikes were very common. Activists and politicians brought these collective movements back to the corruption of the political life and the inability of the governing regime to find solutions that respond to citizens’ needs and eliminate discrimination.
The results of a study conducted by Awlad Alard Center revealed how common protests by working women are. The study surveyed 600 women in Egypt who work in the business sector or in investment companies, and discovered that the main reasons for women’s protests are that their wages are too low for the number of hours they work and their type of work. A report issued by the Ministry of Manpower and Migration revealed that there were 20 protests organized by 9,000 employees in Cairo, Sharkia, Al Gharbia, Al Minoufia, and Alexandria during the first three months of 2010. Fifteen of them were private sector protests and 5 were in the public sector.
Many nurses protested because they did not receive their bonuses and their workplace location was changed without their permission. Female teachers also went on strike because their work was not stable and also place of work was changed without their permission. For the first time, there were many protests that condemned violence against women, sexual harassment, and security aggression at university. These types of protests happened frequently during 2010.
2. Status of Women Outside Egypt:
Protecting Egyptian women living abroad and the marriage of Egyptian teenage girls continue to be large problems. Newspapers broke the story of a 13 year old girl who was forced to marry a former Nigerian governor – a violation of children’s rights. The Human Rights Commissioner in Nigeria submitted a statement to the parliament, calling for investigations into this marriage. There was also a case of an Egyptian woman who was married to a Saudi man who died 18 years ago: his family refused to get a death certificate in order to prevent her from getting her inheritance. Moreover, there were incidents of violence against Egyptian women in the West, such as the rape and murder of an Egyptian woman in Britain.
8. Violence against Women
The gap between the real status and legal status of women perpetuates women against women in all its forms, even if it is illegal according to official documents. This is particularly the case for violence committed by husbands towards their wives and violence committed by parents towards their daughters (honor crimes).
Though article 267 of the penal code defines rape as a crime that must be punished by law, many investigators lack sufficient training or do not care about the victim. Thus, perpetrators often do not face sufficient punishment. Victims are often questioned in ways that make them uncomfortable or violate their rights and their families’ privacy. In addition, the ‘virginity examination’ is often a disincentive for the victim to inform the police. Moreover, marital rape and honor killings are not always considered crimes because there are legal codes that allow judges to excuse perpetrators or give them a weak punishment.
Also, sexual harassment is problematic because the law does not explicitly define sexual harassment and does not provide ways to prove that it occurred. Without a way to provide evidence, it is near impossible to prove the occurrence of sexual harassment or assault. The same difficulties are present in the investigations and the proving of the crime as is the case in rape crimes.
1. Sexual harassment crimes:
Sexual harassment is an ongoing problem that was at its worst during the Eid celebrations. ECWR’s study “Clouds in Egypt’s Sky” revealed that 83% of the Egyptian women and 92% of the foreign women in Egypt have been exposed to sexual harassment. The most common forms of sexual harassment were touching (40% of cases), following, and catcalls. According to the study, 62% of men admitted sexually harassing women.
A survey reported that 72% of the married women and 94% of the young girls are exposed to verbal harassment in the streets. This survey shows the large spread of sexual harassment among young people, as it indicated that two thirds of the unmarried young men in Cairo and Alexandria verbally harass girls in streets. 81% of these harassers justified their actions by saying that the girls provoked it. Sexual harassment is not limited to verbal assault: 17% of the married women and 22% of girls reported that they were exposed to touching by men on public transportation. Married women were asked about their experiences with sexual harassment in public transportation, and 51%said that they are exposed to verbal harassment and 20% of married women said that they are exposed to touching in public transportation, the workplace, schools, universities and governmental offices. 21% of working women reported their exposure to verbal harassment in the workplace, 6% of them referred to their exposure to touching, 15% are exposed to verbal harassment at schools. A smaller percentage of the married women (6%) were exposed to sexual harassment at governmental offices and 1.1% were exposed to it at police stations. Most of those who reported verbal harassment at police stations were in the urban governorates.
However, it is rare for women in Egypt to report violations to the police report, especially when the violence is within the family. In one study that looked at 100 cases of violated women, only 13 of them went to the police station. Another study refers that even if women originally reported the crime, 44% of them withdraw their complaints a few days later. An ECWR study found that 2% of women (based on a sample size of 2,500 cases) informed the police stations.
The spread of sexual harassment of female school students was a new and bigger problem in 2010. Newspapers disseminated news about the trial of young men breaking into schools in order to harass girls there and about students who are actually by their teachers or colleagues. ECWR called on the Ministry of Interior in cooperation with Ministry of Education to interfere to combat this phenomenon. ECWR participated in a gathering march at Cairo University in conjunction with the launch of the project “Safe Cities for women and girls.” Many associations that are combating this phenomenon adopted the methods of ECWR.
At the legal level:
The Committee on Proposals and Complaints at the People’s Assembly agreed on a draft resolution to combat sexual harassment. It was submitted by female Member of Parliament Georgette Quilliny and transferred to the legislative committee.
Twenty three organizations proposed a draft resolution to combat sexual violence in which they called for increasing the punishments for rape and sexual harassment and inserting this in the penal law under the section of sexual violence.
At the level of security campaigns:
The Ministry of Interior has launched security campaigns to combat sexual harassment in all the governorates, which has led to the arrest of hundreds of harassers.
At the level of Arts:
The first movie discussing sexual harassment, 678, was released.
In addition, Hamdy Zakzok, the Minister of Endowments, called on preachers to tackle the issue of sexual harassment at their presentations at mosques.
2. Crimes of domestic violence:
Marital violence has topped the crimes of domestic violence. 33% of women said that they were exposed to beating, slapping, kicking, or other forms of physical violence by their current or previous husbands. The following table identifies the percentage of current married women who are exposed to sexual, physical, and psychological violence by their husbands, according to the social and economic characteristics and the demographic and health survey in 2005. (Note: the survey is conducted every ten years).
During the last year At any time Year
17.2 20.3 15-19
23.6 33.1 20-29
22.9 38.1 30-39
18.3 46.4 40-49
27.2 42.6 Without any
27.2 45.8 Primary education
25.4 40.4 Secondary Education
Finishing secondary Education
14.4 24.5 High Education
16.3 29.2 With a salary
22.7 36.3 Work without salary
27.7 41.0 Low
24.3 39.3 Second
24.3 39.3 Middle
18.9 33.2 Fourth
12.2 23.5 High
18.5 32.6 Urban
23.9 37.0 Rural
21.6 35.1 Total
This table refers to the spread of psychological, physical or sexual marital violence across different social and economic categories of women in 2005. Despite the spread of violence, it decreases among those who belong to higher social classes and those who have received high levels of education. About 24% of those who finished their secondary education or did not continue to higher education, and 2% of those who belong to the highest social level have experienced physical violence by their husbands.
According to the data included in the survey of women’s empowerment, those women who married early – before the age of 20 – said that they are much more exposed to violence by their husbands. A high percentage of divorced women said that domestic violence and poor treatment were the reasons for divorce.
The survey on the rise of domestic violence revealed that 28% of women are exposed to physical violence by their husbands, while 33% of women in the 2005 Health and Demographic Survey were exposed to physical violence by their husbands. 62.6% of women said that they faced psychological violence and 61% said that they are exposed to verbal abuse, mostly in the form of insults. Four out of 5 married men said that they practiced a kind of violence on their wives. As for most of the other categories, we find that the answers of married men are similar to that of married women. Yet, a small percentage of men (0.4%) said that they forced their wives to have sex with them without their wives’ consent, and 17% of women said that their husbands force them to do so.
Office of women’s complaints of the National Council for Women monitored the rate of domestic violence. Domestic violence made up 72.6% of complaints that NCW received. Types of violence included hitting (66.7%), insulting (32.1%), preventing from rights (18.9%) and firing from the marital house (15.7%).
However, marital violence does not get much media attention. ECWR monitoring showed that martial violence crimes comprise 10.7% of the total crimes in Egypt, second only to sexual harassment crimes.
In the trial to combat the phenomenon of domestic violence via passing deterrent laws, Hamdi Al Sabahy, a parliament member, submitted a draft law to protect women from domestic violence. D. Mageda Al Adly, the head of El Nadim Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, said that the draft law is composed of 19 articles, aiming to increase society’s participation in combating increasing domestic violence.
3. Rape Crimes:
2010 did not see any decrease in the number of rapes. NGOs’ 2010 shadow report to CEDAW said that the public security reports stated that 27 rape cases are committed daily, setting the total number at 10,000 per year. According to the report, these are only the cases that are reported to the police; most of the victims refuse to report the crime because of social pressure, as well as their distrust of the legal system and its ability to respect their rights. One of these surveys on violence was indirectly aimed at ascertaining how many people (married men and women and unmarried girls) knew females who were raped or sexually abused. 13% of married women and 9% of unmarried girls said that they know women who were raped or sexually abused, while 7% of men said that they know women who were raped or sexually abused.
A recent study conducted by the National Center for Social and Criminological Research revealed a “leap” in rape crimes in Egypt, while what has been monitored is just 5% of the actual crimes, and the other cases are not known. This is either because victims do not report the incident to the police, the crime is committed by one of the victims’ relatives, or the victim is a child and her family is afraid of reporting lest the scandal negatively affect the whole family of the victim. The statistics mention that the ages of raped victims range from 25 to 40 years and that 70% of them are not married, while 52% of them work in vocational jobs. In addition, the rate of illiteracy among these rape criminals reaches about 34%; 42% of them live in a room or two. The percentage of collective rape reached to 43% and the criminals do not know each other, while dual rape percentage reach to 16% and individual one reach to 33%. 74% of the criminals were encouraged to commit the crimes due to the absence of security in many areas. 6.2% of these criminals confessed that the victims were mentally handicapped and did not realize what was happening to them.
As a new trial to help the victims of rape, the social pages of the IslamOnline network has become the first effective website aimed at supporting and helping the victims of sexual violations. It recently launched an initiative entitled “Rape Victims Club”, through which it has been noticed that the number of child rape has increased and that children are raped by their teachers at schools.
The statistics of ECWR in 2010 showed that there are 98 rape crimes (7.5%) which ranked third after the crimes of sexual harassment and domestic violence.
4. Honor Killings:
A recent study conducted by the National Center for Social and Criminological Research revealed that 70% of the honor killings had not been committed in flagrante delicto, but the criminal, whether the husband or the father or the brother of the victim, depended on the rumors of neighbors on the bad behavior of the victim. This study showed through investigations of 60% of these crimes that victims often mistrust the criminal and that victims have been beyond suspicious. United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights revealed that the United Nations estimates the murder of 5,000 women yearly by a member of their families throughout the world with the claim of “honor killing”.
The statistics of ECWR monitored of 84 committed honor crimes among the published ones with percentage of 6.4%.
5. violence crimes by police officers:
Many reports of NGOs monitored an increase in the phenomenon of threat and the committed indecent assaults in police stations. This is considered to be increasingly dangerous because, while this kind of torture was not popular in the past, the amount women held as hostages during the search for the wanted is rising. Newspapers published many examples such as:
• El Nadim Center for the Management and Rehabilitation of victims of violence accused one of the police officers at Idco police station of torturing, hitting, burning a raped girl and obliging her to confess that she customary married her kidnapper.
• Shady Zaghlol’s wife and children were detained at the 6th of October second police station for three days, in order to force him to give up his complaint against an officer in front of the prosecutors.
• Prosecution witness called “Gamalat Ramadan Hasan”, 70 years old, discharged the State’s Security Officers – in the trial of Abdel Hamid Abu Akrab – of torturing, hanging and electrifying her at Abu Tig police station in order to force her to witness against the accused.
• Rasha Azab, a journalist at Al Fagr newspaper, submitted a police report to the General Prosecutor in which she accused Lieutenant Hesham Al Iraky of tearing her clothes, hitting, and insulting her during her media coverage of the protests in Lazoghly square against the murder of Alexandrian Youngman “Khaled Saeed”.
• Police reporters assaulted a housewife in “Meet Asem” village in Benha when they went to her home and asked about her husband’s brother; they hit her to force her to tell them about his location. Moreover, they assaulted her father, detained him and after two days released him in very bad health.
• Security forces of the Ain Shams University hit 4 activist students, including Manar Shokry, a student at the Faculty of Arts. Moreover they were detained in a room at Manshiet Al Sadr metro station, pushing her to submit a police report on this.
• A police officer of the Al Azhar University in Zagazig assaulted a student called “Somaia Ashraf”, and hitting and kicking here. This led to her falling and receiving a concussion.
The published number of security violence crimes this year is 29 crimes.
6. Psychological violence crimes:
In a survey on violence against women and spread of domestic violence conducted by the Center of Advisors for Society, Planning, Analysis and Administration, 62.2% of the surveyed women admitted that they had been exposed to psychological violence. 61% of the interviewed said that they were exposed to a form of verbal violence, especially in the form of insults by their husband. Accordingly, about four out of five husbands confessed that they practiced psychological violence against their wives. As for the majority of the other categories, we found that answers of married men were similar to that of married women concerning violence, but there was a little number of men (0.4%) who said that they forced their wives to sleep with them, while 17% of women assured the same thing.
In addition, there are many women who suffer harsh psychological violence at courts to prove the parentage of their children both through official and customary marriages and relationships without marriage. These women witness various types of insult and scorn from society. Furthermore, girls are forced into marrying one of their relatives due to traditions and customs, either in Bedouin societies as in Matrouh and Sinai or in Upper Egypt as in Souhag and Assuit. Thus, these customs resulted in high rates of late marriage; the thing that is considered to be psychological violence in itself because the society considers late marriage of a girl as a scandal.
The following chart clarifies the percentages of violence against women that were spread during the first 6 months of 2010:
The previous chart identifies forms of violence which women are exposed to, published during the first half of 2010 from January to June. The total number of violent crimes against women during this period reached 537 crimes.
Sexual harassment crimes were at the top of these crimes ranked at 49.8%, following with domestic violence 13.3%, then rape 10.5%, honor killings 7.9%, violence by security forces 2.5% and finally institutional violence 1.8%.
The following chart clarifies the percentages of violence against women during the second half of the year 2010:
The second half of 2010 from July to December, witnessed 844 crimes of violence against women. Sexual harassment crimes again ranked highest among these crimes with its percentage at 48.58%. This is followed by domestic violence (8.05%), then rape and honor killings (4.8%), violence by security forces (1.77%), and finally institutional violence (1.42%).
7. Using women as a fuel to the sectarian strife:
This year witnessed the disappearance of many Christian girls, and some tried to make the best use of these incidents to cause sectarian violence. The matter reached to its height with the disappearance of “Kamilia Shehata”, the wife of the priest of Deir Muas. The public’s reactions and protests to these disappearances were shown in newspapers and different media channels. For example, a case of sectarian strife was spread at Luxor due to disappearance of two Christian girls. Similarly, there were also protests in Ismailia due to the reappearance of a missing Christian girl – upon her return she claimed to have converted to Islam and planned to marry a Muslim man. This same situation has repeated in many governorates. However, the church detained a number of girls who turned into Islam; such as Wafaa Kostantin, whom the church refused to tell about her place and Kamilia Shehata, whose disappearance had many reactions and responses. While the ECWR stands against the forced disappearance of women and the restriction of their freedom of religion, demonstrations often use these issues to obtain political and sectarian goals.
A number of these disappearance cases were monitored as following:
• Calm returned to Isna, a city witnessing sectarian strife after the disappearance of a Coptic girl and rumors of her marriage to a young Muslim man.
• A state of sectarian conflict spread in Luxor because of the disappearance of two Christian girls, “Catherine Emad Fawzy” (17 years old) and “Marian Girgis”.
• A Coptic girl called “Marian Zaki” in Ismailia announced that she converted to Islam to marry a Muslim young man after her disappearance for a week. This incident pushed many Coptic people to demonstrate and call for bringing her back, while her family received consolation, considering her dead.
• Tens of Christians in Ismailia demonstrated after the spread of news that a 22- year-old Coptic girl called “Nesma” converted to Islam with the help of her Muslim friend. While security force sources denied any reports affirming the disappearance of this girl, in a video Nesma denied being exposed to kidnapping and announced that she converted to Islam willingly.
• After disappearance of “Madlin Esam”, 17 years old, in Al Tawfik village, a number of Coptic villagers demonstrated in front of the patriarchal headquarter of St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Abbasia before the start of Pope Shenouda’s sermons. They demonstrated against the disappearance of and claimed kidnapping of minors; while it was revealed later that the girl ran away from her family’s home after quarrelling with them.
• In tenth of October city, Maged Michael filed a police report on disappearance of his wife “Nagwa Ibrahim” and his three children.
• Naguib Gebrael, the legal consultant of the Coptic Church and head of the Egyptian coalition for human’s rights, called for the return of sermons of guidance and advising in order to decrease the phenomenon of Christian girls’ disappearance. This number of missing girls reached 5 girls in one week, with similar circumstances and age. However, no one knows anything about their destiny. Gebrael threatened that if Ministry of Interior did not respond to his demands, he would organize a demonstration in which mothers of disappeared girls would wear black clothing.
• Kamilia Shehata Zakher, the wife of “Tedwas Saman Rezk”, a priest of Margerges Church in Dermwas, in Al Minia, disappeared, leading to many protests with hundreds of priests and Christians. However, security forces later found her at a relatives’ home and declared that she disappeared because of some disagreements within her family.
8. Female Genital Mutilation:
Although there is health, psychological and social harms of practicing FGM traditions, results from a 2010 youth survey in Egypt demonstrated that 64% of the interviewed think that FGM is a necessity. Additionally, this survey showed that death sometimes occurs when families perform it on their female children. The government criminalizes FGM now and punishes those who practice it by jail.
Muhammad Farid, coordinator of media project in Ministry of Health, affirmed that data in a Population health survey revealed increase of practicing FGM by physicians to 77%. The rate was 55% in 1995, and this operation is not taught in faculty of medicine. Physicians who perform this operation number around 2,000 – newspapers are reporting news every day of girls who died through the operation, in spite of the efforts made to fight this custom.
A project of the Ministry of social solidarity began in 1998 in 18 villages out of 270 ones, and has been revived by the National Council for Motherhood and Childhood as FGM rate was 97%. This council and UNISEF covered most of these villages, while the Social Fund for Development covered many villages by the reproductive health program. In the past years, these efforts resulted in the declaration of some villages free from FGM. In 2010, Aswan was announced as the first governorate that combated FGM customs, while many villages in Assuit declared they are now free from it.
9. Human trafficking
There are many kinds of trafficking of girls and women in Egypt; summer and temporary marriage is still one of the disruptive issues in the Egyptian society. Exporting women for employment is a source of trafficking, along with employment in Egyptian houses with unsafe working conditions; this results in subjection of women workers to circumstances of work akin to slavery. NGO reports before CEDAW in 2010 referred to the violations faced by some female servants, ranging from physical and sexual assaults, killing, bad treatment, and forced imprisonment at the work place, to prevention from food and health care and working for long hours without vacations or wages.
Undoubtedly, young marriage resulted in physical, psychological and sexual suffering. Though importance of the legal text which increases age of marriage to 18 years old for women, it is useless compared to other laws. For example, while Article 2 of Child law that stipulates that it is necessary to know the age from the birth certificate, ID or any other official document issued by the Ministry of Justice or Ministry of Health, it now permits only a medical certificate instead of birth certificate. Undocumented marriage or “customary marriage” is a kind of violence; it has led to harm and psychological suffering, in addition to the forced prevention of women’s rights. Law gives women very limited rights within customary marriage, such as her right to divorce. Additionally, it deprives the customary married woman from any guarantees in case of her husband’s marriage from another woman.
The National Council for Motherhood and Childhood demonstrated that its hot-line for family consultation received 16,021 calls since its beginning in Aug. 13th, 2009 through June 2010. About 242 of these reports are on child marriage, including reports of marriage registrars knowingly involved in marrying women under 18 years old in specific governorates and villages. Females in these reports were between 12 to 18 years old, while there were also reports about undocumented marriages of married women in the age bracket older than 18 years old, as their ages were between 14 to 16 years old, followed by the age bracket between 16 to 18 years old. 38% of these females also were still in the preparatory stage of education, followed by illiterate females who did not join any education or those who joined preparatory education.
While the government attempts to fight this phenomenon by arresting marriage registrars who document marriage contracts of female minors and by punishing any mediators in such a marriage, the marriage of minors is still widespread in Egypt’s governorates. In an attempt to confront these trends, People’s Assembly agreed on increasing punishment of human trafficking. Penalties include no less than 7 years and no more than 20 years in jail and a fine between 50,000 L.E to 200,000 L.E. Mrs. Suzanne Mubarak also began, during inauguration of the international Luxor Forum, the first national campaign to combat human trafficking that will be implemented beginning from January 2011 to January 2013.
10. Personal status
Personal status courts in Cairo witnessed during the first 8 months of 2010 decrease of divorce lawsuits that have been filed by wives against their husbands, while khul’ lawsuits increased according to statistics issued by family prosecution in Zanenery. It also showed a decrease in divorce cases compared to marriage cases, based on the discovery of one divorce case to 5 marriage cases from prosecutions of South Cairo for Family Affairs.
A study conducted by the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics affirmed that in the first quarter of 2010 lawsuits of khul’ and customary marriage in the Egyptian courts increased. The study also mentioned that men who are married to 4 women reached to 3,200, while those married to 3 women reached to 38,800, while those married to 2 women reached to 5,200, and men married to 1 woman reached to 1 million.
This year also witnessed for the first time issued rulings related to personal status such as the mother’s right to have custody of her daughter while she is married from a foreigner, although the daughter’s uncle is alive. It must be affirmed by the security reports and investigations that the uncle has banned political activities and is been visited by the police men at his home day after day. Thus, the mother decides to have her girl’s custody.
Administrative Court obliged the Interior Minister and Head of Travel Documents and the Immigration and Nationality Administration not to withdraw women’s passports or prevent them from travel based on their husband’s orders. The court assured that the constitution ensures personal freedom, considering it a right that cannot be violated. It also ensures the right to temporary and permanent immigration abroad.
Ninth: drafts of laws related to women
Egypt realized the importance of women’s empowerment, thus it focused on the importance of law to achieve social development through ensuring equality of all citizens and no discrimination. However, Egypt still needs more to ensure these rights, and to apply these principles to the future and current laws.
This year witnessed progress in some drafts of laws:
1- On the political level & participation in elections:
– The National Council for Women presented a draft of law to combat violence and bullying in elections. The most significant feature of this law is increasing punishment of bullying in front of the polling station, which is considered one of the major challenges facing women.
– The government also transferred a draft of law to People’s Assembly and Shura Council that suggests amending the electoral constituencies of Shura Council.
– There are talks in amending laws of the local administrations to ensure the fulfillment of women’s quotas in the local parties, which is considered a stride forward in activating their rights and empowering them.
2- On personal status level:
– The Ministry of Justice issued a draft of a law to the ministerial committee in the Cabinet of Ministers to amend laws related to institute proceedings in personal status issues to present them to People’s Assembly and Shura Council.
– The National Council for Women is discussing drafting a law to ensure dwellings for the divorced woman who has not the custody of children. It plans to establish an insurance fund to share the husband in preparing the place of dwelling.
– Three Christian sects of “Orthodox, Protestant and Catholic” are waiting for the final approval of unified personal status law presented to Ministry of Justice after a study in the tripartite commission, composed of representatives from different sects. Church sources affirmed that the sects agreed to allow divorce in cases of adultery only and cancel the other conditions in the regulations 1938 for Orthodox Christians. Thus, the idea of expanding reasons for divorce was rejected for fear of increasing divorce cases, leading to crisis accord with regulations 1902 for Evangelical Christians.
– Minister of State for Legal Affairs and Parliamentary Councils Dr. Mofid Shehab confirmed that the Ministry of Justice did not yet present the final draft of a personal status law for non-Muslims. He added that the draft will be put at the top of priorities of the legislative agenda for the next parliament immediately after approval of the law.
– Khalil Mostafa, Legal Advisor of the Ministry of Family Affairs and Population said that family law which is prepared now will cancel personal status law. “The ministry will start drafting law with the consultation of NGOs,” he added.
– 11 NGOs concerning women’s rights prepared an integrated draft of a law that can replace personal status laws. This includes women in housework with wage and refuses the terms of unemployed women since their wages are national income, in addition to counting the joint wealth of husband and wife which is formed during their marital life.
3- On sexual harassment & indecent assault level:
– The Proposals and Complaints Committee of the People’s Assembly approved the draft of a law to combat sexual harassment, which was presented by MP Georget Qeliny and transferred to the legislative committee. The draft of this law includes punishment by one year of prison-time and a fine of 1,000 L.E for every person who harasses someone of the opposite sex either by touching, following, hints by sexual photos that harm feelings or by wire or wireless contact. The draft also includes punishment by jail for 2 years and fine 5,000 L.E. for any person who harasses a child.
– The Ministerial group is now also preparing a draft of a law to present to The Egyptian Cabinet. It includes increasing punishments on sexual harassment crimes to be life-long jail or execution in cases of kidnapping and rape.
– Proposals and Complaints Committee of People’s Assembly approved amendments of penal code which has been presented by MP Mahmoud Khaleil Queta. The amendments included punishment by jail for year and/or a fine 1,000 L.E. for any person who harasses a person from the opposite sex either by touching, following, hints by sexual photos that harm feeling or by wire or wireless contacts. They also included a punishment of a 5,000 L.E. fine for a person who harasses a child. The punishment can exceed 3 years in jail in the case of harassment by more than one person or if the victim is mentally disabled.
– The counsel and head of Proposals and Complaints Committee of People’s Assembly Muhammad Juelly transferred the proposal, which has been presented by MP Mamdouh Hosny, of increasing the punishment of scandalous acts to jail for year and fine 5,000 L.E. to the legislative commission in the assembly. This happened despite the refusal of this proposal by the Ministry of Justice.
– 23 women associations announced a draft of law related to sexual violence, as it aims at ensuring equality between men and women in all articles of sexual violations. Nawla Darweesh, head of New Women Foundation, said in a conference held in the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights that NGOs plan to present text of the draft of law to the specialized national councils like the National Council for Human Rights, Women, Motherhood and Childhood.
4- On Domestic Violence Level:
– MP “Hamdeen El Sabahy” presented a draft of a law to protect women from domestic violence according to Dr. Magda El Adley, chair of El Nadim Center for Psychological Management and Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence.
5- On inheritance level:
– The legislative committee in the National Council for Women prepared a proposal of amending article of law 77/1943 related to inheritance to stabilize right of heir either man or woman by adding new article to be number 49 to the law. It stipulates that “whoever has the total amount of inheritance or some of it and prevents one of the legal heirs to take his right, should be jailed for year.” The punishment became between 6 months and year with a fine 1,000 L.E. for both of these two punishments for whoever has the total amount of inheritance or some of it and prevents any one of the heirs without reason to take his right.
– MP Muhammad Khaleil Queta announced that he presented a draft of a law to amend some articles in the current inheritance law.
6- On social security level:
– The legislative committee in The Egyptian Cabinet finished discussing the final amendments of draft of law related to social security, to present it to People’s Assembly and Shura Council. These amendments included decreasing the due age of pension to 60 years old rather than 65 years old, and to 45 years old for woman breadwinner who did not marry.
7- Documentation of Egyptian women marriage of Gulf men:
– Woman MP Ebtsam Habib presented a draft of law to document the marriage of Egyptian women of Gulf men.
8- Medical responsibility:
– The Health Committee in the People’s Assembly approved 2 articles from a draft of a law of medical responsibility. These stipulate that a woman can decide to abort her pregnancy in cases of having evidence that she has hard circumstances of living, deformation of the embryo, or mother’s illness due to disease preventing her from continuing her pregnancy.
9- On penal code level
– The Egyptian Council for Women presented a draft of law to The Egyptian Cabinet that equates between men and women in the punishment of adultery.
10- Artificial insemination & test tube babies:
– The Health Committee in the People’s Assembly approved the draft of a law presented by MP Ebtsam Habib, which is related to control the artificial insemination and test tube babies.
11- Kinship Evidence:
– MP Muhammad Khaleil Queta presented a draft of a law that forces fathers to perform DNA examination to prove kinship of the children especially after increase of kinship evidence cases to 15,000.
12- Working women drafts of law:
– Hussein Megawer, Head of Workers Union requested in the Jointed Arab Conference for representatives of working women and youth to adopt unified Arab legislation to protect women at work and increase her participation in social and syndicate work.
– People’s Assembly approved a law to combat human trafficking. It punishes those who commit this crime by the intensified jail time and a fine of 50,000 L.E., and life-long jail time and a fine of 100,000 L.E. These crimes include if the threats of killing, physical harm, and physical or psychological torture; also these penalties apply if the abuser is the husband of the victim, or if the aggregator commits the crime due to his family relationships, or if the victim is a child or disabled person.
– Shura Council approved the principle of the new insurance and pension law. It made 15 amendments in the project such as allowing brothers and sisters the right to receive pension alongside with husband, wife, sons and daughters and parents. Additionally, this gives 100% of the net wage to people who have insurance for giving birth leave.
– The consecutive statute of child law defined specific procedures to end phenomenon of children without kinship. Health offices were allocated in each district to help mothers register their children in the case of lack of contract proving the marriage relationship. The child’s birth certificate is accompanied by a written endorsement that this child is the mother’s child and that he/ she will be registered by the full name which has been chosen by a triple committee includes the registrar, the physician, and the inspector of Ministry of Health. The name that is chosen by the mother is not taken for granted. Article “35” stipulates that it is not valid to prove father’s name if he is one of incest. Mother’s name is not mentioned, while father’s name is mentioned in the case if she is married and the child is not her husband’s one. In case of the father is not Muslim, and his religion does not permit polygamy, and the child is not from her legal wife, thus father’s name is not mentioned except if the child is born before marriage or after divorce.
– Minister of Social Solidarity stressed that a new social solidarity law will be applied in 1st January. The new law includes disbursement of pension to family of the wife who is abandoned by her husband and does not receive money from him more than 3 months, and of families whose breadwinners are jailed for more than month and less than years.
Tenth: Fatwas related to women
The annual report 2010 released by Egypt’s Dar Al-Ifta revealed that it issued 465,000 Fatwas “written, spoken, by phone call, electronic (by internet)”. The report clarified that they included some current cases that concern women like Shari law in ” determining sex of the baby, putting a fertilized egg in wife’s uterus after the husband’s death, rights of the divorced, marriage from wife of the father in case she had not sexual intercourse with the father yet before his death. One of the most important Fatwas issued this year is the permission of women’s ascending to presidency, in addition to legitimacy of women’s marriage by themselves if they are adult.
Fatwas that offend women and Islam are still existent; they include fatwa of adult breast feeding that appeared again and other Fatwas that detract women’s rights and their dignity.
11. Studies and reports
– A 2010 survey conducted by the National Population Council in cooperation with the Egyptian Cabinet’s Information and Decision Support Center (IDSC) on youth in Egypt revealed that 64% of youth aged 15 to 25 years old believe that female genital mutilation (FGM) is necessary and important. 44% of females are exposed to sexual harassment, and 75% of those aged 10 to 29 are circumcised. The survey revealed that more than 2 million children did not go to schools 80% of them live in rural areas and Upper Egypt, and teaching expenses and cultural norms are considered to be the largest obstacles for female education. Although there is a progress in fighting child labor, the survey revealed that 3% of the children are still working, and that most of them are females who work in traditional careers such as cleaning houses. The survey stressed the fact that 37% of females get married before the age of 18 and that 71% of people believe that girls should obey their brothers even if he is younger, and that wives should obey their husbands’ orders in all circumstances. In addition, 80.4% of males believe that hitting women is justified if she speaks to another man.
– According to the MasterCard Worldwide Index of Women’s Advancement, now more women in Egypt than in 2009 are the financial head of households. 47% of women in Egypt in 2010 compared to 40% in 2009 are the prime decision-makers related to home expenses. At the same time, a smaller percentage of women in 2010 than in 2009 believed that they could be promoted in their jobs. The index refers to the advancement achieved by women on economic and social levels compared to that was achieved by men by four basic indexes: two indexes to measure the rate of girls who are working and those who graduated from high education compared to men; the other two indexes are for the rate of women who can ascend the administrative positions and their above-middle income.
– A study about women’s political participation and the quota system revealed that Egyptian women’s participation in political life is less than 5% while women’s participation in parliament is less than 2%. Women’s participation in elections reflect a clear deterioration in the participation rate, since only 1 million women voted out of 3.5 million eligible female voters. The Cairo Center for Development and Civil Society Care released a study that dealt with the reasons behind Egyptian women’s low political participation. The study said that Egypt is still in “delayed situation” related to women’s status in the local assemblies, since women represent less than 5%, a percentage less than the rate in Namibia, Bolivia, and India. These countries apply some type of positive discrimination of women on the local level, such as a quota system. The study called for applying the quota for a specific length of time so that eventually voters will cast their ballots on the basis of candidates’ platforms instead of their gender.
– A report issued by the Information and Decision Support Center revealed that women’s contribution in some areas exceeded that of men’s. For example, women held 99% of kindergarten teaching positions in 2006 and 2007. In primary schools, women held 56% of the teaching positions in 2006 and 2007. Women held 55% of teaching assistantships in 2004 and 2005. Women comprised 52% of technical worker positions in the National Center for Research, Research Institute of Ophthalmology, and the Theodor Bilharz Research Institute in 2005.
– A study by the National Council for Women about women’s performance in the local councils revealed that the largest obstacle facing women in the local councils during electoral phase is discrimination against women. Furthermore, the societal norms opposing women’s political participation and success in the national elections became public. Women MPs in particular face a lack of the financial resources. The study revealed that local council members believe that there are three main groups that can provide help and support to develop the women’s political abilities: the National Council for Women, political parties, and NGOs.
– The Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics noted that women’s representation in the diplomatic and consular corps increased to 20.8%. In a report that was prepared for the anniversary of International Women’s Day, the agency affirmed that female members in the Supreme Council of Press increased six fold and came to represent 12 of the 82 members in the council in 2008. The report noted an increase in women’s representation in the local councils to 5% from 1.8%, and an increase in women representation in the Shura Council to 7.9% from 5.7%.
– The Report of the International Federation of Journalists stated that female journalists still suffer discrimination in gaining leadership positions. Women hold only 34% of positions in the General Assembly of the Journalists’ Syndicate (2400 female members out of 7000 total). An annual report released in March 2010, “Female journalists: partners in press syndicate leaders”, said that female journalists “are not managers” in the newspapers, and do not ascend through leadership positions compared to workers in the Egyptian Television, in the visible and audible media especially the public radio channels. The report, which included Egypt, Algeria, Bahrain, Iraq, Jordon, Kuwait, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Somali, Sudan, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen, said that female journalists only hold 10% of leadership positions, while females hold about 50% of television and radio anchor positions.
12. Women in the media and the role of civil society
– Monitoring women’s status in various national, independent and opposition newspapers has shown a positive trend towards women’s issues. They focused on woman in decision-making positions, like as judges. Some people dealt with women’s issues in a negative way, by using words and titles are referred to women in discriminatory and stereotyped ways and by underestimating women’s participation in public activities.
– In 2010, the role of the civil society worked towards women’s political empowerment and raising their social participation, by coordinating efforts of NGOs and civil society associations, especially women’s associations, to work on women’s legal rights. This issue was included all organizations’ human rights agendas. These organizations implemented many activities that support women’s rights to be appointed as judges. Methods included seminars, studies, protests, live interviews, and attracting society’s and media’s attention to the problem.
– Civil society also sought to attract attention to getting rid of stereotypical images of women through monitoring media approaches and releasing reports, studies, and research in awareness seminars and conferences. Furthermore, it encouraged private media initiatives that work with women and to enhance their rights in the television, print, and radio media. In turn, this will attract more people to media professionals and provide a positive image of women, instead of exploiting them.
– Civil society sought to establish second and third generations of women cadres to prepare and train women for decision-taking positions.
1- The role of the media:
– All forms of media discussed the experience of the quota system and the 2010 parliamentary elections using different approaches. When we monitored women in the news in different national, independent, and opposition newspapers, and on the internet and television programs, we found that there were some positive reactions to the elections. Some writers affirmed that this experience will provide women with an important part of their role as equal citizens.
– On the other hand, some media sources covered the elections negatively. Some editors used superficial and negative titles and terms like “women’s intrigue”, “women’s revolution”, “selective of selective women” candidates (Murshahat naqawa el naqawa), parachute women candidates and housewife candidates” and many other terms that disrespect women’s participation in the public sphere. This stance was made clear through the titles of the political pages and caricatures in Egyptian newspapers. All these actions are disapproved by the monitory and can be considered as a responsibility of media to spur public opinion against women.
– El Shorouq newspaper offered the best coverage of women’s issues, especially regarding women’s participation in the elections, the quota system, and female candidates. It also recently published a photo of a female Italian MP carrying her baby, who was elected through the quota system in Italy. This photo was taken while she was inside the Parliament’s hall and presented by world news agencies in a praise of women’s role and participation.
2- The role of civil society:
– Civil society worked towards women’s political empowerment and social participation. Many organizations worked to spread awareness of the importance of participation and supporting women in the next elections by seminars, conferences, trainings and live interviews, in addition to the monitoring and documentation of all violations during People’s Assembly and Shura Council.
– The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights called upon President Mubarak to issue a presidential decree which approves amending political rights law to ensure that human rights are abided by during the elections. It calls on him also to approve guarantees of elections integrity that have been approved by opposition parties.
– Dr. Farkhanda Hassan, the Secretary-General of the National Council for Women, said that NCW is training 1,700 women from different political parties to participate effectively in parliamentary life in general and in the parliamentary elections in particular.
– One World Foundation for Development organized a training session aimed at supporting and raising the awareness of 37 female candidates from the lists of 13 parties.
– Many human rights organizations organized training sessions for women who wanted to run in the parliamentary elections. The Organization of Friends of the Parliament, for example, held a series of seminars and intensive training sessions, and hosted some female leaders qualified to participate in the parliamentary elections and to represent all political parties.
– Writer Amina Shafiqe, candidate of the Tagmmu party, said in a seminar “features of the next parliament,” “We will try by what we have to make the coming experience success” she means presenting qualified women who can perform a real parliamentary role. She resumed: “We do not need princesses in the parliament”
– A human rights report prepared by the Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement criticized the overuse of the religious slogans in electoral campaigning before the official beginning of nomination, which is illegal. The report requested support for the quota system in People’s Assembly by making another quota in the Shura Council and the local councils.
– Political figures criticized transfer of some civil society organizations into organizations and groups that have interests in the legislative elections of the parliament. Using civil society role to make political change affects its basic role in the public life. This happened in a workshop that was organized by Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies.
Below are important photos related to women and civil society in Egypt.
Below are caricatures related to women that were printed in newspapers:
Sexual harassment was the most caricatured topic.
Marriage of minors and its spread in 2010 as one of the most important topics in cartoons.
Security forces’ attacks on women occurred numerous times, especially university attacks on female students. This happened in universities in Zaqaziq, Ain Shams, and Fayuom.
The divorce rate increased in Egypt, thousands of cases and lawsuits of khul’ and complaints.
A superficial image of women is presented in this caricature.
Face veil (niqab) is still controversial in Egypt and the problems related to banning the niqab from exams and university still continues.
Legislations that give women the right to inheritance are often not applied, especially in Upper Egypt, due to customs and traditions.
Woman …. Is she a commodity beginning from her marriage contract?
Strange fatwas that insult women.
The problem of women’s participation in strikes … “The problem is solved in this way by the policewomen… thus those two police women are not consent if they lost the chances to use force and harassment with protesters”
“Women only” taxis separate women supposedly for their own protection. This is not a real solution as it does not address the problem; it merely avoids it.
13. Women in the news in the Arab world
Despite women’s attempts to claim their rights, it is difficult to make progress. The most prominent obstacles that prevent Arab women from progressing were the discriminatory attitudes that prevail across the Arab world and the harsh treatment of women as stipulated by Sharia law.
– The Saudi Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice forces the separation of mothers from their sons in family entertainment places in the capital of Al Riyadh. It therefore prevents women from playing with their children within a normal family atmosphere. A new study conducted by Dr. Saad El Jasser, a professor at King Saud University, said that Saudi woman is subject to 20 cases of violence in her family life. These cases range from rape, spitting, insult and marital rape. The study concluded that 38% of women who are subjected to violence are subjected to rape, 25% are subjected to verbal harassment, and 47% are subjected to spitting from husbands or relatives. Verbal abuse was the most common type of violence in Saudi Arabia, at 84%.
– In an attempt to rebel these situations, three Saudi girls learning in King Abdel Aziz University formed a rock band called “El Wesam”. They distribute their songs on public websites like Myspace, Twitter, and Facebook.
– Saudi Minister of Justice Muhammad Al-Issa said that his country plans to enact a new law soon that permits women lawyers to defend lawsuits before court for the first time in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
– According to the recent statistics compiled by women associations, cases of domestic violence reached 928 in the first quarter of 2010. Statistics mentioned that May was the month that witnessed the most cases of violence against women, numbered at 153. Violence against men by their wives made up 10% of cases according to new statistics. These cases were generally battery and verbal insult. Verbal insult came in the first place of other kinds of violence that used by men against their wives. Statistics clarified that the wife is the first victim of violence, then the children. Motives for violence were economic, psychological and social.
– Sheikh Khalid bin Ali Al Khalifa, Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs, Chairman of the Higher Committee to oversee the integrity of elections in the Kingdom of Bahrain, announced the official results of the second round of legislative and municipal elections in Bahrain of 9 constituencies and 17 municipal constituencies. Official results showed a first breakthrough for Bahrain women: Fatma Salman, a female candidate, won a seat in the municipal council in the second round in a constituency of El Muharraq. Thus, she became the first woman winner in the Bahrain elections.
The United Arab Emirates:
– According to Global “MasterCard” Index, women in the UAE are economically and socially advanced. However, many of them believe they do not have equal empowerment with men since the UAE’s rank dropped to 105 in 2010 as compared to 122 in 2009. The UAE witnessed a decrease in the number of women who think that they are financial decision makers at their homes, since their rate became 30% in 2010 compared to 60% in 2009.
– A field study released by the Center for Research and Security Studies at Abu Dhabi Police affirmed that indecent call for women in public places in Abu Dhabi decreased 81% between 2008, 2009, since arrested people in 2008 were 268 while they were 73 in 2009.
– The situation for Iraqi women did not change, since they continue to endure consequences of the political faults. Women are still victims of armed conflicts. A directorate that follows violence against women in Dahook governorate reported the suicide and burning of 20 women during the first quarter of 2010; however, this rate in Dahoook is less with 29% than rate of women’s suicide during last years.
– Officials in Kurdistan revealed an increase of violence acts against women and domestic violence, especially after committing violence against wives and sisters became commonplace. An international organization for human rights urged the government of Kurdish Iraqi to ban the practice of Female Genital Mutilation. A report issued by Human Rights Watch entitled “They took me without informing me about anything” called officials in Kurdish Iraqi to make efforts to stop this.
– 138 women ran for seats in the Jordanian House of Representatives and 13 women won them in all constituencies in Jordan, except for Bedouins of the south as there were not any female candidates.
– A social activist and chair of Jordanian liberals, Zakia Borini, suggested imposing a tax on those who marry foreign women, since this led to increase of spinsterhood in Jordon to be 96000 girls older than 30 years old according to statistics of Afaf charitable association. Jordanian Women Associations presented in “Equality Network” requested in a warrant to Prime Minister of Jordon to increase seats allocated for women 30% in the new law of elections.
– Members of Syrian People’s Assembly will propose an amended draft of law that permit for Syrian woman married to foreigner man to give the Syrian nationality to her children.
– Syrian Criminal Security Department in Daraa governorate arrested a 25-year-old married man for raping a child. The Syrian Criminal Security Department said that it was the only crime that occurred during the last decade.
– A draft of law about rising the age of custody to 13 years old for boys and 15 years old for girls is being discussed now.
– Lebanese Parliament Deputies Strida Geagea and Elie Keyrouz presented a draft of law to presidency of council of representatives to cancel article 265 of the penal code which is known by honor crimes. This article allows those who commit these crimes to escape appropriate punishment and to receive mitigated ruling. The deputies request that this article should be identical with the constitution in order to limit honor crimes in Lebanon.
– In one year, 15 Nepalese women from those who work as maids in Lebanon committed suicide. Kantipur newspaper said that they committed suicide due to inability to endure sexual harassment they are subjected to by their bosses.
– Dr. Laila Ghoneim said the legal oath before the president Mahmoud Abbas as a Governor of Ramallah and Al-Bireh to be the first woman ascends this position in Palestine.
– Women’s Affairs Committee of the Kuwaiti parliament approved an item in draft of law of social and civil rights for women. This item makes it necessary for the government to provide Kuwaiti women who are married to foreigner, divorced or widow with suitable dwelling.
– Kuwaiti Interior Minister Sheikh Jaber al-Khaled al-Sabah issued a ministerial rule permits the Kuwaiti woman to bear the costs of living of her foreigner husband and her children. The old law permitted woman married to foreigner to guarantee those who are younger than 21 year old from her children, without the ex-husband or father of her children in case of divorce, since it was permissible to her to guarantee her children only.
– Members of Kuwait National Assembly plan to enact a new law that defines a minimum wage for maids and imposes rules to protect their rights.
– A grant from Oman’s government permits 512 Omani girls who got the secondary certificate with success 82% to resume their education. Many girls were deprived from continuing their study, since the governmental universities accepted those who succeed with high grades. Thus, other girls with low grades lost their opportunities to resume studying due to 0.5% decline in their grades.
– The Tunisian Parliament reinforced a draft law related to military service. It includes right and duty of females to serve in the military, in addition to expanding its performance to public ministries, institutions and municipalities.
– A Tunisian court sentenced a man to life in prison for his crime of rape of his bride on their wedding day in addition to burning her body with cigarettes.
– A Sudanese girl was beaten in one of police stations in Khartoum for wearing pants.
14. Women in the world:
• The French National Assembly approved with a large majority a law to ban wearing the niqab in public places although there are legal reservations on the text.
• The French Parliament issued a new law on protecting women from violence.
• A survey conducted by the French Institute of Ipsos revealed that 91% of the French people believe that women should stay at home and not work. France is the first country to believe in this, followed by the Hungary 66%, then Britain 22% and Holland 20%.
• More than 135,000 French women participated in a protest against violence and street harassment.
• David William Donald Cameron, the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and the Leader of the Conservative Party, appointed Saeeyda Warsi, Muslim Baroness, as a Minister without Portfolio, in his new government, to be by this the first Muslim minister at the history of Britain.
• A Reuters and Ispos survey in 23 countries on the occasion of International Women’s Day revealed that one out of four men believe that women should stay at home.
• 90% of the female Britain employees suffer from sexual harassment at the workplace. While a study published by the Daily Mail newspaper revealed that most working women are exposed to sexual harassment and they hear many bad comments on their failure to do their work just because they are females.
• A National Museum in Tehran, the Iranian Capital is due to be established in order to enhance women’s role and her achievements in the fields of science, culture, economy, policy and sports.
• A sentence of death was issued for the Iranian woman named Sakina Ashteiany. She will be stoned to death because of her adultery.
• An Iranian court issued a sentence of stoning to death to a man and a woman called Valy Janvishany and Saria Abbady, as they were charged with having an illegal relationship (adultery), days after the issuing of the sentence on Sakina.
The United States of America:
• 4 women lead protests against the separation during praying at the mosques, for they prayed and stood at the last line behind men at the mosque that is related to the Islamic center.
• New York City police arrested a 12-year-old Latina girl and took her out of her school with her hands cuffed, because she wrote on the desk and then she was detained at the police station for some hours.
• Taliban Movement denied its responsibility for cutting the nose of an Afghani young girl whose picture appeared lately on the cover of the Time magazine. It described publishing of this photo as a kind of “desperate propaganda”. A speaker of Taliban denied in a statement on its website what the magazine published and the charges against the movement of cutting the nose and ears of Aesha (18 years old) in order to punish her for her running away from her husband’s home in Orozghan, Afghanistan last year.
• A Japanese report revealed that one out of 10 women exposed to sexual harassment in the Japanese trains that are usually crowded, files a police report. An online survey conducted by the “Japanese Police Academy” assured that 13.7% of those referred in the survey were victims of these behaviors done at crowded trains. While 89.1% of them do not file police reports. When they were asked about the reason why they did not file a police report, 36.3% of them answered that this would be “trouble making” matter and 26.2% of them said that the investigations would be a waste of time.
• A new survey revealed that 41% of husbands and wives in Germany are fighting together on the home tasks and that these differences may be reason for divorce of 11% of Germans.
• A survey revealed that 50% of German women gave up their job aspirations and had to change it because of their families. On the other hand, 25% of women in the survey said that the less support or lack of efficiency is a hindrance to their work. Another survey revealed that 90% of Germans believe that there is discrimination against women at work.
• Aygül Özkan, of Turkish origin, was appointed as the first Muslim minister in Germany.
• A recent study in India revealed that India is “harassers’ paradise”, while Sweden and France came at the end of the list of countries that have harassment. The study included 12,000 employees in 24 countries. 3% of the surveyed people said that they exposed to sexual harassment by members of high positions. On the international level, the survey revealed that 1 out of 10 is harassed by their managers.
• A survey revealed that 5 out of 10 employees in South Korea are exposed to sexual harassment at their work places. An online survey conducted by a website of jobs, and included 549 employees in South Korea revealed that 47.5% of the surveyed people assured that they were exposed to sexual harassment at work and that 76% of them are women. While 61% assured that they are usually exposed to harassment. Most of the victims clarified that their guardians are the ones who harass them and the other harassers are of the colleagues and owners of the companies.
• Two Indonesian women sold their two baby girls in order to pay off their bills to the maternity hospital. In the same context, a woman in Bali sold her baby girl who suffers from pulmonary problems, because she could not pay for the hospital and her debts reach to 6 million rupees.
• Dutch Ministry of Defense needed at the very beginning of the year many women to hold leader positions including the army. Women will have special trainings, but their number was not specified.
• Thousands of Congolese women organized a protest against sexual violence against women in Bukavu city in East Democratic Congo. Women from 50 countries participated in the protest. The first lady of Congo was in the forefront of the protest. The protest came after days of reveal of a female official at the United Nations that more than 300 women and girls were exposed to rape 3 months ago in Walikaly village by rebels sometimes and another time by governmental forces.
• A report of the United Nations Population Fund claimed that sexual violations of women are used as a tool of war. In the meantime, the report coincided with the increased rates of rape by the military militias and the governmental military forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
• The first village for women sits 350 km away from Nairobi, the Kenyan Capital. It is a village established by women who were exposed to violence and could not find any solution so ran away from men and established a new society for women only. The village was established under the supervision of the Kenyan government.
• The Supreme Court in Bangladesh issued a sentence stating that no one has the right to oblige any woman to wear certain clothes in work places or in educational associations. In addition, women’s wear shall be optional. The court issued this sentence after one of the faculties banned girls, who wore not complete veil, from entering the faculty. Moreover, the court also gave the girls the right to practice sports and cultural activities, believing that their ban is not a legal matter.
• There is a crisis between the Turkish government and the army because the veil of Khair Al Nesa’a, the first lady. The army refused to participate in a reception ceremony that was held in the presidential palace in which the first lady was participating.
• The female candidate of the governing party, Dilma Rousseff, won in the runoff presidential elections and became the first woman to hold the position of Brazilian president.
• 33 women insisted on imprisoning themselves on 900 meters underground in a coal mine in Lota village south Chile as a protest against ending a social program. Those women who threaten to make hunger strike were probably imitating the crisis of 33 female workers in mines who besieged 700 meters underground in north Chile for more than 2 months until they had been rescued in an interesting incident aired to all world channels. Women in Lota protested against ending a social program responsible for providing jobs to 9,500 people in the district.
• Police arrested a 63-year-old man for raping his daughter for more than 30 years.
• The Israeli High Court is considering a lawsuit filed by Hebrew countries related to the state’s support of separation between men and women in the public buses.
• An extremist Jewish group in Israel named Sknag issued a ruling obliging women to veil all their bodies through their being outside their homes. It also banned women from making phone calls on their mobile phones in the public places. This trend appeared as a result of appearance of the woman nicknamed “Om Taliban” who was living in Shams temple and was wearing black clothes veiled her body completely. The extremist rabbis warned the sellers not to sell any women short or tight clothes, claiming that selling these clothes are the main reasons behind disasters on earth.
• Greece’s new socialist government that was formed from PASOK party by presidency of George Papandreou announced that the new government includes 9 women ministers, this happened for the first time in Greece history. In addition, the government consisted of 36 members in 14 ministers. Women are most of ministers of education, culture, tourism, health, social solidarity.
________________________________________On the level of legislations:
• Enhancing and strengthening the judicial system in order to develop the application and implementation of recent legislations. In addition, employees should be provided with trainings at the office of domestic disputes settlement in family courts and enabling them to effectively settle the disputes.
• Spreading the principles and values of women’s rights as part and parcel of human’s rights.
• Issuing a law that confronts domestic violence and enlists such violent crimes in the criminal record. Through keeping the criminal record of domestic violence crimes, we can use the data against those people in order that such crimes will not be repeated (even if the wife gave up her rights and reconciled the situation with her husband). Moreover, the punishments of domestic violence shall be harsh as the case in rape crimes committed by one of the relatives of the victim; the thing that will enhance the idea that the husband is responsible for protecting his wife and her interests. The socially acceptable concept of discipline is considered to be as a reason for violence against women; yet there can be other substitutions such as rehabilitation, posing restrictions on the ID or the driving license or banning her from traveling or holding leading positions.
• Providing trainings on the proper way to deal with domestic violence. Special units shall be established in police stations to receive reports about sex crimes or domestic violence ones. In addition, it is necessary to make changes in the procedures in order to allow female police officers to hold the responsibility of investigating sexual harassment crimes or the victims of rape, and investigations shall be held in special places. Also, the investigations that are held in the office of the general prosecutor shall be done by trained female employees and the meeting with the victim shall be held at home or at the hospital. In addition, special measures shall be set in order to identify the circumstances in which judges shall sentence decreased sentences, according to law no. 17 of penal law as the sentence is pronounced by the discretionary power of judges alone.
• Issuing a new law that states definition and evidence and criminalizes sexual harassment. Moreover, police officers should be granted power to issue immediate reports on the incidents at the time that they happen according to previously prepared forms, exactly like what the traffic officer does.
• Establishing a unit to deal with violence against women. The unit will be established through effective ties between the police stations and the public prosecutors, those who provide health care and NGOs, and the leaders of local societies. Thus, a mechanism will be held through a system that will include all the people of interests (the National Council for Women, Ministries, and NGOs, etc.). The responding to the different needs of women who are victims of violence can be enhanced. Finally, new procedures shall be set to operate the shelters that consider the differences between the two genders on all the administrative levels of sheltering, and that will help women in finding long term solutions and guarantee psychiatrists in the shelters of those women who suffered from violence.
• Serious discussion in parliament of the submitted draft resolutions by civil society organizations.
• Ministry of Education should launch an initiative to change the situations and practices of school administrations and to improve school curriculum. This will help women to achieve higher education levels without discrimination in the roles on the basis of gender. Also, education officials should determine the gaps that face women and should exert efforts to train and educate women in order to gain skills of work that are needed to fill the gaps that face women.
• Enhancing work environment. Nurseries shall be established at work places instead of being conditioned by the number of employees. Nowadays, some employers violate the rules and do not follow up the law. In addition, women’s getting jobs shall be easy especially because employers do not hire women because of their responsibilities towards their families. The government shall encourage women’s participation at work places through spreading and widening the spectrum of providing small loans, whose importance is so large and can be applied to women. The process of encouraging women to establish projects and facilitate the establishment of such commercial businesses will help at reducing the high percentage of unemployment for women who are highly educated.
• The Egyptian government should issue new legislations to combat sexual harassment. Many women suffer from sexual harassment daily. The first step to enhance equality between genders is establishing an environment that will provide freedom for all people – men and women – to walk in streets freely and without fear.
2. On the political level:
• Ending discrimination against women in decision making positions and expanding the quota to include all the elected councils at the students and labor unions in addition to the syndicates and the associations of the representative councils.
• Coordination and participation with the Egyptian, Arab and International female members of parliament and the local NGOs thing that will enhance and develop the related agendas and developing the abilities of the women and getting the necessary support. If women will participate in any activity in any of the civil or the political activities, their percentage should not be less than 25% of the members of the political parties, the lists of candidates in the labor syndicates and the vocational ones.
• It is necessary that elections will be held under the supervision of independent authorities in order to guarantee the fairness of the elections. Women are usually the first victims of the electoral violence and they face many challenges when they are about to be nominated for any position.
• The quota system should be connected with other steps towards comprehensive political reform and establishing a political upbringing to strengthen the role of the female movement to support the legislative amendments.
• Inserting changes to the law pf practicing political rights in order that elections will be by proportional conditioned lists and guarantee a percentage of 30% for women to be submitted to the recent People’s Assembly.
• Dealing with the case of women’s political participation as a social issue, and should be regarded as an issue of luxury
• Organizing a campaign to open discussions with the different concerned parties (associations, political parties, syndicates and media workers) on activating women’s political participation and charging all parties of special responsibilities in a way that guarantee an integration among the different roles of the parties.
• Guaranteeing the commitment of the parties to activation and enlarging women’s participation and enhancing their participation in holding leading positions. In addition, guaranteeing the nomination of a specified number of women on the parties’ lists, in addition to providing the proper support to the female candidates politically, financially. Also, the choice of female candidates shall be done on the basis of their proficiency, political history and popularity.
• Formation of a special committee to receive complaints from women in elections and trying to solve them quickly with the concerned bodies.
• The participation of many women in the discussion of the draft resolutions on women and present them to women with different categories in order to show their opinions before issuing these laws.
• Ensuring the development and enhancement of the performance of female members of elected councils and the continuation of communication with the public to assure their trust.
3. On the level of the media:
• Dealing with women’s issues as part and parcel of the society’s ones, and keeping accuracy and following the rules of the job, especially the right of publishing
• Encouraging writers, directors, and actors to enhance equality between genders through developing their work in order to change the stereotyped image of women and to combat discrimination against women.