Egyptian Women Have Choice of Rock or Hard Place

By Jessica Gray

CAIRO, Egypt (WOMENSENEWS) —If new elections are held, Fatema Khafagy will not be sorry to see the months-old Islamist parliament go.

"Frankly speaking, we were not happy with parliament or the women there," says Khafagy, a board member of the Arab Alliance for Women, which educates women about family planning and promotes legal protection for victims of domestic violence. "We hope that we’ll have better elections after the constitution is written."

Many liberals and women’s group were angry when Islamist parties won a majority of the seats in Egypt’s first parliamentary polls after the fall of deposed president Hosni Mubarak, now in failing health. They were also upset that these groups would play a large role in the creation of the nation’s new constitution.

Khafagy says the Muslim Brotherhood, a conservative political force with a far reach, and other Islamist members of parliament had numerous draft laws in the works that targeted women, including lowering the marriage age to 16 from 18, abolishing no-fault divorce and favoring fathers in custody cases. If passed, the laws would have erased decades of work by Egyptian rights activists…Read more

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