From offering amendments to the Egyptian constitution against female circumcision, to increasing the constitutional penalties for sexual harassment, changes in the Egyptian constitution -for the most part – have been in favour of women. However, that could possibly be changing soon, if a suggested amendment offered a day ago in relation to child custody, is accepted and voted for.
Parliament member Sahir Al Hady, introduced a draft law, amending Act 25 which was decreed in 1929 and added in 1989, from the Egyptian Family Law. The amendment is related to child custody. As quick background info, the current law gives mothers child custody till the child is 15. Afterwards, the child gets to chose whether they would like to stay with the mother or go live with the father. Furthermore, the law allows the father only 3 hours a week to see the child. However, if the mother is to re-marry, the child is inevitably taken away from her. Who does he or she then go to? The child would then go to the grandmother from the mother’s side, if not, then the grandmother from the father’s side, then the child’s sisters, then the mother’s sisters, then the father’s sisters, and the list goes on till the father comes in as the 16th option for child custody if the mother is to re-marry.
It may be unfair that the father comes in 16th, but the fact that a child is taken away from his or her mother’s arms if she were to re-marry is a faulty and extremely biased basis to begin with. If that basis is solved, the issues in the building blocks will then be solved as well.
With that being said, any person would assume that given Sahir’s position as female, the suggested amendment would help improve the faulty basis in the law. However, that was not the case. Instead, Sahir suggested that not only should a child get taken away from his or her mother if she is to re-marry, but also offered placing the father’s wife on the guardian priority list. If that isn’t enough, she wants the father’s wife to be on the top of that list, stating that it is “unfair for the father to come in 16th for child custody”. Moreover, she suggested that the mother get custody of the child till the age of 7 instead of 15 and that the father get 2-3 days per week with the child instead of 3 hours.
The current law technically punishes a mother if she re-marries by taking away her child. Sahir then wants to place the father’s wife on the guardian custody list, which not only makes it ok for the father to remarry, but encourages divorced fathers to remarry for greater chances of getting their child. In short, the law doesn’t want mothers to re-marry and punishes them for it, doesn’t offer any similar punishment if the father were to remarry, and if the suggested amendment were to pass, fathers would then also be encouraged to remarry.
As a shame slam, Dr. Salah Fawzi, member of the Reform Legislation of the Council of Ministers, came out against the suggested amendment. According to Dr. Salah Fawzi, giving the child 2-3 days with the father will cause psychological problems and confusion for the child, and that 3 hours is enough for a stability. Furthermore, he suggested that not only was it wrong for the child to only stay in the mother’s custody until the age of 7, but the child should stay with the mother till the age of 18 instead of 15.
We’ve reached a point where women bring down other women. We see it on a daily basis on social media, we’ve seen it with the prior decision taken by a female to suspend overweight female anchors on national TV, and we’re seeing it now in the parliament. It is funny how the table seems to have turned so that now a male is defending the rights of women against the desires of a female. We hope that this law does not get passed, and we sure do hope that females bringing down females in all social spheres doesn’t become the new norm.