Friday, May 9

The Victimization of Egyptian Women and Children

I don't know whether to laugh or cry. Somethings are just beyond belief! And I seriously wish that what Egypt has been witnessing lately is just one long bad dream. Don't know what to do if this nightmare doesn't end. Excuse my sad, or rather depressed, tone.. but I am extremely shocked, and on many levels.

Let's start with the child rights laws, which have been the subjects of many debates in Egypt lately. This led to some amendments and now the articles are being discussed once more, faced by huge resistance led by.. of course you know who.. the Muslim Brotherhood! Unfortunately, now that they have occupied 88 seats in the Egyptian parliament, they can object to such laws.. not only so, but the huge media controls they own, as well as those that surrender to their influence, enables them to disfigure anything they object to, and represent it in the most horrible attire to the masses who have come to consider them as their trusted source of information and ready made judgements.

Why am I writing about child rights? Well, there are a number of laws that mainly target the rights of a female child. Pardon me, I feel stupid when I call them rights.. let's say discontinuing violations against young girls, from FGM to early marriages. But that is not the only reason.

I don't know how to explain it to those of you who are not familiar with the Egyptian society (or Arab societies in general), yet let me try. Women here, in spite of of their utter vulnerability, are expected to bear full responsibility of their children. This responsibility may or may not include the financial one. Yet, even if the financial aspect is included, a woman is not supposed to take credit for it.. as opposed to the man, who is automatically perceived of as the bread earner, the hero who toils to provide for his family.

Take this as an example. A typical Egyptian mother is supposed to get as many children as her husband wants. She doesn't have a say in this. This is a man's decision to make. If he asks for more kids, his wish must be granted, or else.. and this "else" includes horrible options.. needless to say, all of which are totally controlled by the man, for he can decide to divorce his wife or desert her or have a second wife. So, to make a story short, that's why a woman has to keep producing babies into this world until her husband decides that he's had enough.

Then, she becomes responsible for nourishing those kids, upbringing them alone (just like a single mom) looking after their health, taking them to school, helping with their homework (if she is educated|), besides her regular chores of course, and satisfying her husband in every possible way. Which means, that basically this woman never gets a chance to have any time for herself.

Now, what if she is married to a cruel man.. or worse, a psycho.. which is not a rare case? He has the right to beat her and her children as severely as he wishes. No criminal charges can be directed against him, unless one of them dies as a result of this beating. And yes, it is allowed in our legal system. And yes, you guessed it right, because some crazy sadistic men have claimed that this is an authorized tool for disciplining a man's wife and children in Islam! Which is absolutely not true.

This woman, even if she has a job, is never encouraged to leave her husband. Even if you are married to a psycho or a drug addict, society expects you to stay in this marriage for the sake of "the children". Black comedy.. but true.. she is stuck with this psycho and her children have to pay the price, until either this man dies a natural death, or one of them ends up being murdered. Then this man is put to jail and the other members of the family, who are already ruined by then, can continue their lives without neither upsetting the society nor being tortured by the father (being in prison).

At last, in the year 2008, and for the first time, new laws are being endorsed to protect child rights in Egypt. Those laws include:

1- Prohibiting the practice of FGM and considering it a criminal act which deserves to be punished by law. ( Yes, up till now FGM is not considered a criminal act. It is prohibited at public hospitals, and the ministry of health forbids any registered doctors from doing the procedure. But there can be no charges against those who break the rule. 2 girls have recently lost their lives while undergoing FGM, and those who operated on them were not charged with anything.)
Bedour, lost her life while undergoing FGM

2- Considering severe beating of a child by his/her parents to be a violation against child rights, and therefore authorities will have the right to place charges against the parent in case of severe injuries and causing disabilities.

3- Raising the age of marriage for females to 18, and any female under this age can not have a legal marriage certificate. (Early marriages are usually arranged by the parents who wish to get rid of the responsibility of their daughters or force them to marry for money.)

4-Giving a mother the right to register her child on her name in cases of illegal children, where the father refuses to give his name to his own child outside marriage. (Currently, there are 120,000 cases of illegal children in Egyptian courts. By law, even if a DNA test relates a child to his parent, the man can still refuse to give his name to his child, as long as there is no official marriage certificate bonding him with the mother. Moreover, a man cannot be forced to take a DNA test in those cases. If he refuses to take it, then nothing can be done.)

Now, imagine this.. The MB objects to all those laws saying the following:

1- FGM should be left as a matter of choice. If parents wish to preserve the "chastity" of their daughters through this procedure, then it is their way of protecting her and deciding what is good for her! Therefore, they claim, by closing the legal doors, they will still do it (as if this is a matter of fact that we have to live with) even if they resort to unprofessional physicians, nurses or "hala' elseha" or "daya".

2- The Muslim Brotherhood considers corporal punishment ban "imported from west", saying that it is an authorized method of disciplining children according to Islam, and building on the hadith "Order your children to pray at the age of seven, beat them for it at the age of ten, and let males and females take separate beds." (The hadith didn't mean to beat a child until death. Severe beating is prohibited in all cases, while minor rebuking back at that time before any other methods of parenting or discipline were introduced was permitted in the case of reminding a kid to pray.). Then the other hadith, which they present in the worst version I've ever seen is "Play with them (your children) for seven (years), beat them for seven, befriend them for seven, and then let them be." Now, this hadith, if it is a real one (I've never seen it anywhere except on their websites) was never said with the verb "beat" edrabohom, but the versions I saw before either had the verb "discipline" adebohom or "educate" 3alemohom in its place. It does not make sense at all when you relate it to what we know about how prophet Muhammed brought up his children, besides the crazy and brutal message behind it. Seriously, those people are cursing their religion!

3- Again, as always, they like the idea of kids getting married. Don't know what those sick people are thinking! And they keep making pathetic excuses for it. How can a girl under 18 be responsible for a family, for God's sake? What are they benefiting by causing more men to rape kids in the name of a legal marriage? Yes, this is rape. Straight and inhuman rape, no matter what the papers say. How come a kid who can not even have a bank account or a driving license be able to get married??!! If I can't be responsible for some money bills or a car made of metal, how come I am allowed to be responsible for a family and raise children while I am legally a child? Who on earth would want a girl under this age to get married? and for what purpose? This is way too much!

4- Yeah, the usual talk. Leave the illegal children in the streets. We have one million homeless children in the streets?.. so what? Let them double or triple.. not a problem. But a child can never have the name of his/her mother. A child whose father is an animal must pay for it for a lifetime. But the animal has to be protected, because he's a man. Now that's a heavenly privilege that no one can touch. He is the god on earth. He chooses whether to give his children a life or execute them. A child whose father is unwilling to give him a name, can never have a life. The god on earth has decided his fate.. so leave the kid to meet it.

Yeah.. yeah. Great macho men! So, this is religion, huh? We are supposed to buy this, aren't we? So, Islam for you is a religion that rewards sadists, psychos and brutal men, while it punishes women and children, the scum of earth, right? Now, let me see this clearly. According to you, we are worshiping a sick man in the sky.. for this being you are claiming to talk on behalf of can never be a deity of any kind.. he can not raise to the level of the human even! What a bunch of psychos you are! I bet that the devil himself has got more ethics than you do.

Take a look at what the MB makes of this here.


Dr. Eyad Harfoush said...

Dear Fanta,
Excellent topic revealing the offending ignorance of this brotherhood about Islam before anything else.

FGM was not promoted by Islam, the recommendations of prophet while did not directly ban the social habit entirely, it was overtly trying to decrease its impact

Beating kids is a society and temporal specific matter. In today's modern society it has benn abolished with the degree of mental development of kids.

And so on and so forth, the cowards are offending real Muslims with their defective cognition of faith. Best Regards

Fantasia said...

dear dr. eyad,

thanks for your comment and for stressing the fact that those hateful habits were neither dictated nor encouraged by Islam. unfortunately, the MB had the final say on this issue! those articles were rejected by the egyptian parliament.. and now (and for a long time to come) people will still think that religion encourages child abuse! I am so sad and depressed.. struggling so hard so as not to lose hope.. yet the situation is absolutely terrible. is there a way out? could there possibly be any way out of this shit?

Fantasia said...

special thanks to my dear friend The Angel.. also known as Marwa Rakha :)

raaasa said...

Inspiring talk by Eve Ensler, creator of the Vagina Monologues, in part discussing progress made be women fighting against FGM:

Egyptian Feminist Chic said...

Fanta, this just makes me sad..... These are people blinded by their own predjudices, and they are so resistant to change.... They are using religion for their own personal gain... and I keep wondering how much people are bileaving their mumbo jumbo.... I am absoloutly disapointed the law was not approved... and I dont know where we are going as a country seeing the kind of ideas spreading in our society... For now I choose not to think about it.. it is too disheartening. Sigh.

Dr. Eyad Harfoush said...

Dear Fantasia,
If you remember when we once discussed the illuminati way. Yes, there is surely a way. Nevertheless, it takes much more than what a man can do. The way is Islamic reform, not in FGM only, but allover and in all aspects. It takes peolpe who has guts to die for it, dedication to it, and belief in it. Regards dear

raaasa said...

Apparently Egyptian law now allows unmarried mothers to register their child under their names. Hurray! Surely this has to be a good thing at helping these kids get a chance at some kind of future.

Also, Egyptian parliament has now banned marriage of men and women before the age of 18, raising it from 16 for girls. Hurray!

And finally, FGM is also prohibited unless it is deemed "medically necessary."
Just when can FGM be necessary medically? I suspect this caveat will not augur well. Ideas?

But generally the news is good, no?

raaasa said...

Egypt bans marriage between 92-year-old Gulf man and 17-yr-old Egyptian girl:

Jade said...

Wonderful post Fantasia, it's my first time around here.
What's really sad though is that thost very Egyptians are not reading this - & most likely it is someone from the West that is. & thus - the image will forever remain - that we are terrorists.

Sad - but true.

Thanks for a good read.

American Chick said...

Dear Jade:

I like to say this now i'm from the west and i don't think that everyone over there is terrorist infact i think this war is stupid but then again who's going to listin to me a 17 year old girl. I believe that the way the women and children over there are being treated is the worst and it's something i never knew till now. I wish things could be diffrent and that everyone would see that this war and that their actions are wrong and not take to war saying "War is Peace and without it we will never have Peace". This is something that has been a discusion in my english class too and we all think that both teh misbehavior towards the woman and children and the war is wrong.

Best of Luck To You,
American Chick

"When I dare to be powerful - to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid" - Audre Lorde