Easy divorce law ruffles men in Egypt

Ulhas Joglekar ulhasj at SPAMbom4.vsnl.net.in
Wed Jan 26 06:20:56 MST 2000


26 January 2000

Easy divorce law ruffles men in Egypt
CAIRO: A law which could make divorce easier for millions of Egyptian women
has struck fear into the hearts of men in this conservative West Asian
country.
``This law is rubbish because it gives women a right they shouldn't have.
The man should be the one who dominates. He has the power of concentration,
women are rash in everything,'' said an angry Mohammed Mahmoud, 28, who runs
a photography shop.
Amendments to personal status laws now before Parliament would give new
family courts the power to grant women a divorce within months if they waive
alimony rights and return their bride price under an Islamic precept called
`Khula'. ``I really hope this law is passed,'' said Leila Mahmoud, 33, a
translator, ``because men deserve it.''
At present an Egyptian man can get a divorce simply by filing a paper with
the marriage registrar. He does not even need to inform his wife, while
women seeking divorce face years in court. Egyptian men seem terrified by
the proposed changes.
``The husband will have no word over his wife in the home. Women will
control the situation, everything will be in her hands,'' complained
technician Abdel Wahhab Hussein, 38. ``I'll have a judge interfering between
me and my wife.''
Human rights groups have voiced reservations about the draft law, especially
its insistence that women must return their bride price and waive alimony to
obtain a speedier divorce. But the draft has drawn the ire of Egypt's
male-dominated Parliament and press.
Newspapers have carried cartoons of men in chains, moustached wives with
downtrodden men at their side pushing baby buggies, and vampish dames with
cigarettes asking for the hand in marriage of demure-looking males from
their shocked fathers.
The opposition Al-Wafd newspaper quoted a lawmaker from the ruling National
Democratic Party as saying nature provided many examples of the male of a
species taking more than one mate, but ``there was never a hen with two
cockerels''.
The draft law does not, in fact, cover the practice of polygamy, which
prompts many of the 1.5 million divorce cases filed each year, according to
lobbyists behind the legislation. Courts will also be able to review
requests by either party to prevent the other from travelling abroad. At
present husbands can stop their wives from obtaining a passport. After
heated debate, the People's Assembly, or Parliament, may approve the law
this week under government pressure. (Reuters)
For reprint rights: Times Syndication Service
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