Egypt women stand and wait to vote last December, but now face potential destruction of their rights with new constitution.
CAIRO: The leading Egyptian women’s rights organization, the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights (ECWR) has condemned the constituent assembly in the country tasked with writing the first post-uprising constitution.
The ECWR said in a statement that the cancellation of a number of women’s rights clauses is “planned aggression against Egyptian women” and demanded that women and their rights are protected in the new constitution.
“In the light of intimidating the Egyptian women and seeking to attack their rights by some dominant mainstream in the constituent assembly of the constitution, the Egyptian society was shocked due to the announcement, on behalf of some members of the committee, on the cancellation of article 68 from what is known as the draft of constitution,” ECWR said in their statement.
Article 68 had guaranteed the rights and equality of women and men in all sectors of society, including political, cultural, economic and social life “and all other fields without prejudice to the provisions of Islamic Shari’a.
“The State provides the services of motherhood and childhood for free. The state ensures the women’s health care, social and economic rights and the right of inheritance and reconcile with her duties towards the family and her work in the society. The state provides protection and special attention of household, divorced, and widowed women and others of women who most in need,” read Article 68.
The rights group urged the constituent assembly to abide by the understanding that men and women are equal under Egyptian law.
“The need to include specific references aiming at establishing the principle of equality between women and men, addressed ‘women and men’, instead of the signals or ambiguous and general words such as ‘personals and citizens or individuals’. The reference of women or men in the preamble reinforces the idea that says women and men are equal in the constitution and both of them have the same rights and duties, and they are treated equally without any discrimination,” ECWR continued.
Women’s rights have become a major focal point in the new constitution, with a number of conservatives on the assembly pushing to revoke many of the gains achieved in the years leading up to the Egyptian uprising, including divorce rights, economic rights and the age of marriage. Salafists – Islamic puritans – have been calling for the age of marriage to be lowered as well as the cancellation of woman’s right to divorce.
ECWR said that the “commitment to guaranteeing equality in the rights between the Egyptian women and men which includes guaranteeing full rights and freedom and the necessity of passing on legislation that enhance achieving equality. Additionally, passing any other mechanisms and measures to protect persons and categories from discrimination,” it continued.
The first draft of the new constitution has already sparked fears that conservatives are taking much more control of Egypt’s future through provisions that put more weight on Islamic law rather than civil law.
Women’s rights are at the forefront of the ongoing controversy.