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JUSTICE FOR ALL

 Women's Right to divorce

Recently a law permitting Egyptian women to file for divorce on grounds of incompatibility has been received as welcome news by many abused women, who are trapped in unhealthy marriages, while some perceived it as a call for breaking homes and a right, a woman shouldn't have.  Please read the following reports by different news agencies and if you wish, you can post your opinion by clicking on The Forum link above.
US News online

World Report 3/6/00

Giving wives a way out
New law eases divorce for Egyptian women

By Mona Eltahawy

CAIRO–After seven years of marriage and two children, Azza's husband walked out on her and exercised his Islamic right to take a second wife. For four years he ignored her pleas for divorce. A women's legal aid center in the poor Cairo suburb of Boulaq was finally able to persuade a judge to grant Azza a divorce seven months ago. "I never saw a good day with him," said Azza, 32. "At one point I broke down and told my children their father had died because we never saw him." Azza's lawyer, Seham Ali, said her client was considered lucky because her actual divorce trial lasted only 18 months. Other women struggle for years to escape bad marriages.

With women like Azza in mind, rights activists campaigned for years to change the 1929 law permitting a woman to file for divorce only in cases of proven physical or psychological abuse. By contrast, a man could simply say, "I divorce you," three times or get a divorce by filing a paper with the marriage registrar–without even informing his wife. While opponents of change claimed the restrictions were inspired by Islamic law, women's activists noted that the Egyptian law ignored rights afforded by Islam to women when it came to marriage and divorce.

Givebacks. In January, the Egyptian Parliament voted to give women the ability to file for divorce on grounds of incompatibility. Under the new law, a woman who wants to divorce her husband must return his dowry and relinquish all financial claims, including alimony. The doom-laden predictions of some male lawmakers that the law would encourage women to leave their husbands en masse–along with cartoons in national newspapers that showed men in chains and mustachioed wives with downtrodden men at their side pushing baby buggies–reflected the deep-seated fear of women's rights in this staunchly conservative country. "This law is rubbish because it gives women a right they shouldn't have," said Mohammed Mahmoud, 28, who runs a photography shop.

A 32-year-old housewife who had been trying to end her marriage for three years became the first woman to file for divorce under the new law by agreeing to return to her husband the $30 he paid as a dowry. But liberals argue that the new changes do not go far enough, saying it will be difficult for poor women to return their dowries and to renounce financial rights.

click here to review a related report by abc news

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