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Egypt: Women's Right to Divorce Debated in Parliament

The performance of the new Egyptian parliament continues to stir debate on social media sites. The new parliament was seen as a move towards to democracy. However, the parliament continues to discuss matters that seem irrelevant to the country’s most pressing needs – such as a request to ban pornographic websites.

There has been another controversy over an MP who claimed that English classes are a plot to westernize Egyptians. The most recent fiasco was about an MP’s request to strip women of their right to file for a divorce.

In the past, when it came to women’s right to divorce, Egyptian women were seriously discriminated against. Men had the right to divorce their wives without going to court. Women had to go through a long, complicated and bureaucratic procedure to obtain a divorce. The situation was slightly improved in 2000 when a law was passed that give women the right to file for a no-fault divorce (Khul’). Through this law, women can get a divorce but have to let go of all their financial rights.

Social media users reacted quickly to the draft law suggesting the cancellation of khul’ in parliament.

Merit Al-Sayed says [ar]:

مشروع الغاء قانون الخلع خطأ فادح. الخلع دفعة الى الامام للمرأة التي من حقها البدأ من جديد في حياتها.

A draft law to cancel Khul’ is a grave mistake. Khul’ was a step forward for women; it’s their right to start over with their lives.

Mira Samy adds [ar]:

مشروع قانون لإلغاء الخلع هو البرلمان دا جئ علشان يقضى على كل حقوقنا بدل ما يجيب الحقوق المغتصبة ولا دا جزء من خطة ولا يوم من أيامك يامبارك
A draft law to cancel Khul’? Is this parliament here to take away all our rights instead of getting our lost ones? Or is it a part of a plan to make us say “come back Mubarak”?

Not only women were angry as many male supporters also shared their outrage. Wael Khalil pleads [ar]:

ال كنت عامل حسابه وخايف منه بيحصل: مشروع قانون لالغاء الخلع…. الاخوة النواب – فرجونا شوية شطارة على السلطة والعسكر مش على الشعب المسالم
What I was worried about is happening: a draft law to cancel Khul’. Dear MPs, show us some clever work against the authorities and the military, not against the peaceful population.

Ali Hagras exclaims:

إلغاء قانون الخلع هو ببساطة اعطاء الضوء الأخضر للرجال للأساءة إلى زوجاتهم جنسيا و إذا اعترضت فهي كافرة و زنديقة ؟ أترضاه لاختك يابو دقن ؟
Canceling Khul’ law is simply giving the green light for men to sexually abuse their wives; and if she objects she would be called an infidel? Would you like that to happen to your sister, bearded men?

And Sherif Khairy reasons:

مشروع قانون منع الخلع ده على أقل تقدير ساذج.. افتراض ان خراب البيوت بيجي لما الطلاق يحصل.. مش مدرك ان الخراب الأكبر انهم يعيشوا كارهين بعض
This draft law is naïve, to say the least. If it is harmful when a divorce happens, wouldn’t it be even more harmful if they live together while hating each other?

As usual, there were many sarcastic and humorous comments. Noon Arabia has created a Storify of on the debate mainly with tweets from @Elma7roossa who wrote several tweets under the hashtag #الخلع_قوة which translates to “Khul’ is power.”

Additionally, Riham Mohamed jokes:

مجلس الشعب كده بيلعب بالنار .. قالك يلغى قانون الخلع .. ده كانت الستات قاموا عليهم قطعوهم ‎:D‏
The parliament is playing with fire. If they say they would cancel Khul’, women would go and cut you into pieces! :D

Muhab Talaat also offers:

اكيد الي قدم طلب الغاء الخلع عايز يلعب بديلوا وخايف مراتوا تخلعوا وعجبي

The MP who requested canceling Khul’ definitely wants to fool around but afraid that his wife would divorce him!

And Sally Zohney quotes her mother:

ماما اللي بتخاف من المظاهرات ” لو مجلس المتخلفين ده لغى الخلع أنا حجيب خيمة ومش حمشي من قدام مجلس الشعب”…ادوني عقلكم
My mother who’s afraid of protesting says “if this parliament of retards cancels Khul’, I’ll set up a tent in front of parliament and will not leave.” I lost my mind!

It's worth noting that the MP who filed the draft law to cancel Khul’ is not a member of Islamists parties, but a former member of the liberal Wafd Party. Ahmed Shokeir offers his viewpoint on this:

مطالبة عضوا بإلغاء الخلع الذي حلله الدين توددا للإسلاميين هي متاجرة بالدين ، تؤكد ان مطالبة الغير بتطبيق أمور تحت مظلة الدين ليست لأجل الدين

An MP’s request to cancel Khul’, which is religiously accepted, to appease the Islamists is like trading with religion. This confirms that requesting matters under the guise of religion is not for religion’s sake.

Indeed, the debate also tackled whether Khul’ is Islamic or not. Many users cited that Khul’ is indeed a part of Islamic jurisprudence. Mohamed ElGohary affirms that Khul’ is Islamic and says:

Khlo3 can't be cancelled, as long as there is an “Islam is the basic source for legislation” is in the constitution.

Finally, not everyone agrees on the matter, and not everyone thinks canceling Khul’ is a bad move. Twitter user @_ADHEM tweets:

انا ضد قانون الخلع لانه مش في الإسلام حاجة بتقول كده ولو ع الخمسين واحد الي علي تويتر دول عادي هما بيسافروا بره كتير ‎‫#مصر‪‏
I am against Khul’ because there’s nothing in Islam that says so, and for those 50 Twitter users who’re with it, it’s no big deal, they already travel abroad a lot!

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