By Omnia Talal
CAIRO, Dec 11 (Aswat Masriya) A 46-year-old Egyptian woman, who divorced her husband in 1995, has spent the past 18 years trying to achieve child support for her two children.
"I spent half of my life between courts to achieve child support for my children, and when it finally happened, the court granted me fifty Egyptian pounds for both my children," Azza Aly Ahmed told Aswat Masriya, summing up the struggle of over two million Egyptian women.
Azza, who has two grown children, filed for child support in 1997 but after a four-year struggle between courts and lawyers, she was only granted 50 Egyptian pounds (7.26 US Dollars) in 2001.
She made a request for an increase in the amount in 2011, but has not heard from the court yet.
“Female divorcees in Egypt pay the price of splitting up with their spouses and refusing to marry again to raise their children," she said, pointing to the harsh look of society and poor treatment of neighbors and relatives amid the hardships which these women face.
Official records say that there are almost two million and five thousand divorced women in Egypt and at least 16 percent female breadwinners across the country.
Azza explained that she was forced to split up with her husband because he treated her and her children badly, beat them and was overall unable to support them which led her to spend a lot of time at her mother's house to meet her children's needs.
“Life had become unbearable between us and I was left with no choice but to ask for a divorce to end my suffering. Only did I know that a different type of suffering was waiting for me.”
When Azza was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003, her company, which she had worked for since she was 18 years old, paid for her treatment, but she was forced into early retirement in 2006 so she can receive her end of service benefits.
Down from her 700 Egyptian Pound salary, Azza's pension now is only 180 pounds, so she has to depend on help from her older brother.
The single mother explained that she is suffering from both psychological as well as financial problems due to the burden of having to play the role of both parents and expressed concern over the absence of a male figure in her children's lives.
Azza said she believes the state is not doing enough to help marginalized factions and urged the government to work on laws relating to personal struggles of divorced women and their children and include them in the constitution.
According to Article 11 of a new constitution that will be voted on next month, the state is obliged to achieve equality between women and men on all levels and protect the rights of mothers, children, breadwinners as well as elderly and impoverished women.