Egyptian ‘single mother’ stirs controversy online

Published January 15th, 2017 - 08:58 GMT
A young Egyptian woman has been hit with abuse on social media after her husband abandoned her (Twitter)
A young Egyptian woman has been hit with abuse on social media after her husband abandoned her (Twitter)

The story of a young Egyptian mother whose partner left her before the birth of their first child has sparked a frenzied debate on social media.

According to the story that was circulated online, Hadir Makaqi got married under customary law, a form of marriage which is not legitimate under Islamic law in most areas. Her family reportedly did not approve of the match, so the couple kept their union a secret.

The 27-year-old and her spouse then apparently spent several years together, before she became pregnant. After her husband divorced Makaqi while she was expecting, she made an appeal for support online, hoping to ensure she gained custody of the baby.

The hashtags “I support Hadir” and “single mother”  were launched on social media by sympathetic Egyptians. The response to her plea, however, was mixed, with many accusing her of "zina", or having a sexual relationship outside of marriage. Twitter and Facebook users shared pictures allegedly of Makaqi posing semi-naked or in nightclubs, using derogatory language to refer to the new mother.


Hadir has made sure that her son in the future will officially be a “son of a whore”

We have reached the age when the person who does things which are forbidden in religion is called open minded, and the woman who has sex outside of marriage is called a single mother and those who are god fearing and patient are called complicated.

They are supporting prostitutes, oh my God!! They enjoyed engaging in what is forbidden, and had a child who is the son of this forbidden behaviour. It’s not better, and I don't #support Hadir. We support the right of the child. This is "zina" not love.

Let's truly support Hadir. Let's wait until she has settled her child, and finished breastfeeding him, and then we stone her along with all of the other pimps and whores which are defending her.

Yes, of course I am ready to support her, what club does she play at?

Nonetheless, a minority defended Makaqi against this barrage of abuse, calling out the hypocrisy of her treatment:

One Facebook user wrote: "In my life I have never seen such an attack on a rapist or harasser. It is true, those are not women so that people can take their anger out on them."

Customary marriage, “zowaaj ‘urfi” in Arabic, involves an oral or written contract agreed upon in secret, often without the attendance of a religious official. It is sometimes used as a means for young people to have a sexual relationship within a semi-legitimate context. However, customary marriage does not ensure the same legal rights and commitments as ordinary marriage, meaning women like Makaqi can be left abandoned, both by their partners and the law.


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