Egypt’s divorce system discriminates against women and undermines their right to end a marriage, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released Tuesday. Last month, the Egyptian government established family courts but, like no-fault divorce introduced four years earlier, these have failed to tackle ongoing discrimination against women, the report said.
The 62-page report, “Divorced from Justice: Women’s Unequal Access to Divorce in Egypt,” documents serious human rights abuses stemming from discriminatory family laws that have resulted in a divorce system that affords separate and unequal treatment to men and women. “An Egyptian woman seeking a divorce finds herself between a rock and a hard place,” said LaShawn R. Jefferson, executive director of the Women’s Rights Division of Human Rights Watch. “If she files for a fault-based divorce, she has to endure years of legal uncertainty. To obtain a faster no-fault divorce, she must sign away all her financial rights.” In contrast, Egyptian law affords many protections for men. Women seeking a divorce, unlike men, must submit to compulsory mediation. If a woman leaves her husband without his consent, he can files charges under Egypt’s “obedience laws” that can result in her loss of alimony upon divorce.