Egyptian women seek religious right to initiate divorce

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Egyptian women seek religious right to initiate divorce

Post by CocoaButter » Wed Sep 30, 2009 10:21 am

CAIRO: Marriage remains one of the most solid social institutions in Egypt. However, the image of a maazoun (marriage registrar) with his white emblazoned handkerchief, iterating traditional vows may soon undergo profound changes that could substantially alter the meaning of marriage, or even divorce.

In a startling statistic released earlier this year, the Egyptian National Center for Social and Criminological Research revealed that 100,000 women in Egypt hold the right to initiate divorce procedure (called e’sma). The center expects this number to increase progressively in the coming years.

According to Sharia (Islamic jurisprudence) women have the right to include a clause in the marriage contract that ensures their legal right to equal access to divorce (e’sma) — traditionally and culturally seen as the husband’s prerogative — without having to resort to a court of law.

“Marriage is a contract. Like any other contract, the parties can stipulate conditions. Islam doesn’t deny women that right as long as the husband has agreed to give it to her. It could be limited to a certain period of time or open through the whole marriage,” said Sheikh Mahmoud Ashour, former deputy head of Al-Azhar and member of the Islamic Research Center.

Following a bitter experience in her first marriage, Nora, 35, insisted on having the e’sma.

“All I had suffered because of my first husband’s intransigence, and after going through a very exhausting journey to terminate five years of misery, made me insist on having the e’sma in my second marriage. Why not secure my own divorce when Islam has granted me that right?” said Nora.

Although it is permitted, divorce is still frowned upon in Islam. However, the Egyptian Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) has found that Egypt has the highest divorce rate in the Arab world with 40 percent of marriages collapsing.

Egypt’s divorce system grants the man a unilateral and unconditional right to divorce. While men do not even need to set foot in a courtroom to end a marriage, Egyptian women must resort to the tardy court system to secure their financial rights in a complex process where they are often expected to provide evidence of physical harm during marriage, which is typically hard to do.

January 2000 marked a significant — though partial — victory in the process of reforming the country’s 75-year-old personal status law. In that year, parliament passed a new law of no-fault divorce called khul’, giving Egyptian woman the right to file for divorce without providing evidence of harm, as long as she agrees to forfeit her right to alimony and deferred dowry (called mu’akhar).

Many women’s rights advocates see khul’ as a half-baked solution resulted from the tireless efforts of prominent Egyptian lawyers, NGOs, legislators, scholars, and government officials for over 15 years.

Although the application of this new law allows women to seek a unilateral, no-questions-asked divorce, it is still seen as only benefiting wealthy women who can afford to forego financial support from their ex-husbands.

“While the introduction of no-fault divorce has clearly helped some women divorce more easily, they still have to relinquish many of their rights if they choose this option, It casts doubt on whether khul’ really provides women with equal access to divorce,” said Soha Adel, a lawyer and women’s rights activist.

In the case of e’sma, men agree beforehand to give their wives the right to divorce. The agreement cannot be annulled and allows a wife to get a divorce without having to go to court or to forfeit her dowry or any other rights she has in a normal divorce situation.

Nihad Aboul Qomsan, director of the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights, says that in Egypt millions of married women go through life without the e’sma right. Unlike Adel, she believes that khul’ has negated the need to exercise this right.

Adel disagrees. “I personally encourage women to stipulate having the e’sma in the marriage contract. It saves them from going though a long painful process to gain their freedom. Women should try to fortify themselves from the treachery of men,” she says.

On the flip side, Naim Abu-Aaeda, who heads the “Si Sayed” association defending men’s rights, believes that any man who relinquishes the e’sma to his wife, is looked down upon in society and viewed with suspicion.

“A man who hands his wife e’sma is seen as a man with hidden motives. This is why most marriages of this kind are in certain segments of society, where the husband is much younger than his rich wife or they belong to different socio-economic levels.”

Muslim marriage registrars, however, are not bound by law to ask brides if they want to secure the e’sma, according to registrar Osama Abdel Aal.

“Many women are simply not informed of the fact that they could hold the e’sma and most registrars refuse to disclose this condition during the procedures so as not to raise tension and ruin the entire marriage.”

Women are usually reluctant to demand such a right for fear of breaking off the engagement and driving the fiancé away by what is widely viewed as “unacceptable” and offensive not only to the groom, but to the bride’s future in-laws.

Yet there is Islamic historical evidence to support that women had the e’sma as far back as the early days of Islam, such as the example of Sukayna, the wife of Al-Hussein, Prophet Mohamed’s grandson, who had the right to initiate divorce since she was able to travel and run her own business.

Hisham Adam, a notable Sudanese novelist and a strong women’s rights advocate says that e’sma enjoys historical authenticity as seen in the era of pre-patriarchal laws.

“I do not expect a patriarchal society like ours to accept this easily, but a deep scrutiny of our history, will help us realize how dramatically women’s status had changed over the past 50 years. What is most important now is to have women recognize their own rights and exercise them.”
http://www.thedailynewsegypt.com/articl ... leID=24687
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Post by New Gal » Wed Sep 30, 2009 11:28 am

Women can initiate divorce proceedings in Islam as part of the khulla remit.

This is the right of a woman in Islam to divorce or separate from her husband. After divorce the husband is responsible for the education and maintenance of the children. The children live with the mother for seven years. After seven years the children have the right to live with the father or the mother, as they decide.

A woman seeks a khula while a man seeks a talaq The iddah period (waiting time after a divorce) of a woman whom seeks a khula, is one menstrual cycle or one month if she is no longer menstruating.

This ensures that she is not pregnant. This is different from when a man seeks a talaq, when the iddah period is three cycles or three months. The iddah period also allows for reconciliation for the husband and wife.

There is still the need for witnesses when seeking a khula as in a talaq.

The mahr, (dowry money/assets) depending on circumstances, may or may not be given back to the husband.
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Post by CocoaButter » Wed Sep 30, 2009 11:36 am

I know if i was living in egypt and my husband divorced me he could have my children only if i remarried again but dont matter for him .This would not go down well with me .Its happend for my one of my sils and it hurt her naaaaaah there was an enormous fight in the courts and the kids cried NO ..bears not thinking .
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Post by New Gal » Wed Sep 30, 2009 11:44 am

Sorry I found that comment hard to follow
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Post by CocoaButter » Wed Sep 30, 2009 11:48 am

New Gal wrote:Sorry I found that comment hard to follow
in other words i would not give up my children i would fight for them .As usual its a mans world still in egypt .Woman finds happiness you lose the children .
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Post by New Gal » Wed Sep 30, 2009 12:15 pm

Its a man's world everywhere.

I haven't heard that before about giving up your kids if you remarry.

I don't think thats rooted in Islam at all though. Thats a cultural thing.
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Post by CocoaButter » Wed Sep 30, 2009 12:48 pm

New Gal wrote:Its a man's world everywhere.

I haven't heard that before about giving up your kids if you remarry.

I don't think thats rooted in Islam at all though. Thats a cultural thing.
Islam or not they use it in the courts to suit their needs
Egypt’s profoundly discriminatory divorce system harms women at every stage of the divorce process. The pains and perils involved in initiating divorce in Egypt’s backlogged and inefficient courts compel many Egyptian women to push their husbands, for whom divorce is effortless, to divorce them. In return, women usually agree to sacrifice their financial rights. Additionally, discriminatory laws that condition a woman’s right to housing on her having physical custody of children serves to deter women from seeking divorce by instilling fear in them that they will be rendered homeless. The loss of physical custody of children, which is transferred to fathers when children reach a certain age or automatically if women choose to re-marry, is another discriminatory consequence of Egypt’s divorce system.

Women courageous enough to attempt to terminate their marriages in Egypt’s courts, a process that can take several years, are likely to find themselves destitute during the process because they are ineligible for any social assistance from the state while they are legally still married. These unfortunate consequences of divorce in Egypt serve to both deter woman from ever seeking to divorce their husbands or make their lives miserable post-divorce.
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Post by New Gal » Sat Oct 03, 2009 2:23 pm

What is the source for that please CB?
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Post by CocoaButter » Sat Oct 03, 2009 9:12 pm

whats your assumption .
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Post by New Gal » Mon Oct 05, 2009 5:46 pm

CocoaButter wrote:whats your assumption .
My "assumption"?

I didn't make one, thats why I am asking :roll:
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Post by CocoaButter » Mon Oct 05, 2009 5:54 pm

New Gal wrote:
CocoaButter wrote:whats your assumption .
My "assumption"?

I didn't make one, thats why I am asking :roll:
well maybe i like you to have one and if you havent then so be it NEXT :mrgreen:
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Post by New Gal » Mon Oct 05, 2009 6:22 pm

Ok...."next" it is :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll:
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Post by Geraldine » Mon Oct 12, 2009 6:19 am

As salamu `alaykum!

I am a widowed with one daughter and she is 4 months old. I want to know the grounds regarding child custody based on Islamic Law and Egyptian law. If I
re-marry again is there a possibility that the family of my late husband can take my daughter from me.



Answer
If you remain unmarried then your child will remain with you. If you remarry then according to the prominent Muslim economist and counseler Dr. Monzer Kahf:

If both parents are Muslims and one of them dies (as your situation), minor children have the right to be with a caring blood-related female under a blood-related male as head of family. The list of relatives with custodial priority is given by the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) as follows:

The mother if not married, or married to a brother of the deceased


The mother's mother, provided she is not married to a man not related by blood to the children


The father's mother, provided she is not married to man not related by blood to the children


The children mother's sister, then their father's sister, with the same condition.

If none are available then the mother will take custody of the child regardless of who she is married to.


This is from Islamonline .net and if you google similar information comes out here and there. Although I don't know if this is the current law, to my knowledge it is.

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Post by Christine » Tue Oct 13, 2009 10:38 am

Hello Geraldine, nice to see you here for a change.
Thanks for the link, its an interesting subject isnt it, and very thought provoking i feel.
It made me think how uncomlicated our lives are, and how lucky we are to have the freedoms that we have. :)

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