Egypt’s constituent assembly tasked with drafting the new constitution no longer has any women the committee after the only woman remaining on the council has quit in protest.
Manar el-Shourbagi, the only woman on drafting committee quit on Monday. It is unclear her reasons for leaving the assembly, but it follows a number of other Egyptian women removing themselves from the drafting process in protest of the their voices not being heard and the takeover of the process by ultra-conservative Salafists.
Last Tuesday, the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate announced it was removing itself from the writing process after a unanimous vote by the syndicate approved the decision.
The syndicate said it was leaving the Constituent Assembly after the assembly refused to listen to any of the group’s suggestions and recommendations.
It follows the Coptic Christian Church’s withdrawal from the constitutional process after it also said the assembly was not listening or compromising on any of the proposed items on the agenda.
The council condemned the assembly and argued that it was participating in “violations of freedom of expression” in the drafting process.
The syndicate also said all of the journalist demands for freedom of the press had been disregarded, which it said was an affront to the media and its workers.
It had urged the constitution to inscribe provisions in the new constitution that would forbid the closing down of newspapers or the confiscation of issues.
Earlier this month, women’s rights groups also condemned the assembly, arguing that they were attempting to remove all women’s rights in an “act of aggression toward women.”
The Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights (ECWR) said in a statement that the cancellation of a number of women’s rights clauses is “planned aggression against Egyptian women” and demanded that women and their rights are protected in the new constitution.
“In the light of intimidating the Egyptian women and seeking to attack their rights by some dominant mainstream in the constituent assembly of the constitution, the Egyptian society was shocked due to the announcement, on behalf of some members of the committee, on the cancellation of article 68 from what is known as the draft of constitution,” ECWR said in their statement.
Article 68 had guaranteed the rights and equality of women and men in all sectors of society, including political, cultural, economic and social life “and all other fields without prejudice to the provisions of Islamic Shari’a.
“The State provides the services of motherhood and childhood for free. The state ensures the women’s health care, social and economic rights and the right of inheritance and reconcile with her duties towards the family and her work in the society. The state provides protection and special attention of household, divorced, and widowed women and others of women who most in need,” read Article 68.
The rights group urged the constituent assembly to abide by the understanding that men and women are equal under Egyptian law.
“The need to include specific references aiming at establishing the principle of equality between women and men, addressed ‘women and men’, instead of the signals or ambiguous and general words such as ‘personals and citizens or individuals’. The reference of women or men in the preamble reinforces the idea that says women and men are equal in the constitution and both of them have the same rights and duties, and they are treated equally without any discrimination,” ECWR continued.
Women’s rights have become a major focal point in the new constitution, with a number of conservatives on the assembly pushing to revoke many of the gains achieved in the years leading up to the Egyptian uprising, including divorce rights, economic rights and the age of marriage. Salafists – Islamic puritans – have been calling for the age of marriage to be lowered as well as the cancellation of woman’s right to divorce.
Posted by Women Against Shariah on Tuesday, November 27, 2012