Call for Protection of Women’s Rights in Egyptian Constitution

egyptprotest

Target: President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi

Goal: Prohibit discrimination against women in the Constitution of Egypt, banning crimes such as domestic violence and marital rape.

The new Constitution of Egypt that was hurriedly adopted last December has failed to protect the rights of women. Before it was approved, Egyptian authorities had announced multiple laws that would protect females in the country, but these are not yet implemented according to Amnesty International. Because the Constitution relegates women to positions of subordination by failing to protect them from domestic violence and rape, they face dangers inside and outside their homes. Urge the President of Egypt to adjust the Constitution to protect women’s basic rights as soon as possible.

Not only is severe violence against women classified as general assault under the new law, but women face other issues that hinder them from attaining rights. The Shari’a law, the moral code and religious law of Islam, can be used by authorities to justify gender-based discrimination. Because religious law carries significant weight, victims of assault suffer in silence as they believe it is a necessary part of life and a part of their culture. Unfortunately, violence is a problematic part of culture and the only solution is to protect women under the Constitution by making domestic violence and marital rape punishable by law.

Hassiba Jadj Sahraoui, the Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International, says that women in this country “have fewer rights than men in areas like marriage, divorce, child custody and inheritance, and the law says that a woman is required to obey her husband.” This latter issue is cause for distress for many Egyptian women, as domestic violence is especially high in Egypt according to the Population Reference Bureau, and women who feel they must obey their abusive spouses suffer throughout their entire lives. At present, women have no reason to report violence in the home, as no legal action will be taken to mitigate it, and voicing the problem can only result in continued and increased violence. The PRB also claims that preventing gender-based violence, as well as punishing the predators, is imperative in upholding women’s rights as full citizens of the country. Failing to protect them under law is ultimately failing to give them full citizenship.

While more than violence against women must be changed in the Constitution in order to give women the same rights as men, preventing violent discrimination is a key step. Urge the President of Egypt to address this issue and amend the Constitution to protect women from violence and marital rape. It is not enough to lump these crimes into a general assault category, and it is an offense to humanity to treat half of the country’s population as second-class citizens.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi,

Recently, your country adopted a new Constitution that fails to protect the rights of women on multiple accounts. Not only does it give women fewer rights than men on issues like marriage, divorce, child custody, and inheritance, but it unsuccessfully protects women from heinous assault such as domestic violence and marital rape. Violence against women in their own homes that is classified as general assault allows men to abuse their own wives and gives women no options other than to endure the cruelty.

Many Egyptian authorities have announced initiatives to protect women, but these laws were not included in the Constitution and are not implemented in any other form. This is a tragedy for the women of your country, who not only have to fear violence outside their homes, but are not protected inside their homes either. It is your duty to protect them to the best of your abilities, and there is no reason so many should suffer because your country’s law fails to address the issue of violence and the need for protection of women. I urge you to take action against domestic abuse and marital rape, and set your country on the proper course for equality and change.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Lorenz Khazaleh via Flickr

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