Lawyer Challenges Constitutionality of Egypt’s Adultery Law
By Mohammad Baali
Albawaba.com - Egypt
An Egyptian lawyer has taken up the cause of women’s rights to sue their spouses for adultery, calling “unconstitutional” a law that stands in their way.
Samir Khater says the law goes back to the 19th century and the legal traditions of the French.
Khater said he had filed a case on behalf of a wife who had been harmed by her cheating husband.
He said he had challenged the constitutionality of Clause No. 277 of the Egyptian Penal Code, which restricts the right of wives to sue cheating husbands to crimes committed at the couple’s own residence.
“If the court rules that this clause is unconstitutional, the husband will be convicted and therefore his wife will get her due,” Khater added.
The second lawyer in the case, Mohammed Youssef, said that the claimed illegality of Clause No. 277 was based on clauses No. 2 and 40 of the Egyptian Constitution.
Clause No. 2 states that the Islamic Sharia’h (law) is the main basis for legislation that does not discriminate between men and women in cases of adultery.
Clause No. 40 confirms that people have equal rights under the law, and therefore prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex.
But under Clause No. 277, a convicted husband receives six months in jail for adultery, while the wife receives two years for the same crime.
The third lawyer in the case, Hani Moussa, said such discrimination violated an international agreement on eradicating all forms of discrimination signed by Egypt in 1980 and put into effect the next year.
Clause No. 2 of the agreement states that women should be provided with the same legal protection as man, while Clause No. 5 stipulates that the countries involved should cancel or amend laws that discriminate against women.
Human rights organizations in Egypt have recently taken interest in cases of legal discrimination against women, holding conferences and distributing leaflets condemning the concerned clauses and demanding their cancellation.