Egyptian women protest minister of justice's decree on 'summer marriages' phenomenon

Wednesday 30-12-2015 07:05 PM
Egyptian women protest minister of justice's decree on 'summer marriages' phenomenon

CAIRO Dec. 23, (Aswat Masriya) A group of 15 young women stood on the steps of the Journalists’ Syndicate on Tuesday night with black make-up around their eyes, to symbolize bruises, and signs that read, “No to violence against women.”

Aya Hosny, one of the organisers of the small protest told Aswat Masriya that the point was to oppose a new law issued by the minister of justice that “legalizes touristic marriages,” and to oppose all the types of violence that women are exposed to in shapes and forms.

Earlier this month, the minister of justice issued decree No. 9200 for the year 2015, requiring that foreign men pay 50,000 Egyptian pounds in investment certificates at the National Bank of Egypt if they wish to marry women 25 or more years younger than they are.

The decree was met with a lot of criticism from women, activists, and human and women’s rights organizations that stated the law is legalizing and facilitating what are called seasonal summer marriages or “touristic marriages” in Egypt.  

The term references the phenomenon of wealthy foreign men, primarily from Gulf countries, marrying much younger Egyptian women, usually temporarily, over the summer.

Hegazy described the law in a comment to Aswat Masriya, as a decision “to sell Egyptian girls in slave markets.”

Lawyer Rabab Abdu, vice president of the Egyptian Society to Support Juveniles and Human Rights, previously said that the minister’s decision to “put a price tag on touristic marriages” flies in the face of efforts to combat human trafficking.  

"Now these women can marry these men, who are decades older, only on condition that the men can afford the price. This takes place in a legal setting, with the blessing of the ministry of justice," she told Aswat Masriya earlier.

The protest came shortly after an international awareness campaign entitled “16 days of activism against gender-based violence,” which has taken place every year from 25 November to 10 December, since 1991.

Hegazy clarified that she chose this date, after the end of the campaign, so that action for ending violence against women can continue all throughout the year.

Hala Hassan, one of the protesters, told Aswat Masriya that she was subjected to physical violence and humiliation from her now ex-husband. She added that he is unemployed and has not provided her or their child with financial support since their separation.

“I wish that the law could punish and jail any man who hits his wife, and that men in Egypt learn to respect women,” she said.

More than 30% of ex-wives in Egypt have been exposed to physical violence at the hands of their husbands, according to a Demographic Health Survey in Egypt for 2014, the state-owned Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics announced in November.

Hegazy added that the group of protestors are not driven by any political parties, or factions, but that she and a group of her journalist colleagues created this event on Facebook. The protest also received approval from the ministry of interior, the event said.

(1 dollar = 7.73 Egyptian pounds)

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