Heated debates hamper hopes for new child law

Yasmine Saleh
3 Min Read

CAIRO: The controversial ‘child law’, which has been under consideration by the legislative committee of the People’s Assembly (PA), is unlikely to be finalized any time soon, according to Mohamed Khalil Kwaitah, a PA member affiliated with the National Democratic Party (NDP).

Kwaitah has told Daily News Egypt that the law is being held up by debates over how to ensure that it is sharia-compliant.

“The debate over the child law is still on and will remain for a while, until the PA makes sure that all of the new points comply with the sharia, Kwaitah said.

The MP had himself proposed a provision to be issued under the child law giving women who become pregnant after being raped the right to have an abortion. However, the PA’s legislative committee decided to propose that the provision be included under the social affairs law.

A few weeks ago, the Citizens for Development Foundation (CDF) held a workshop to debate the law, inviting both journalists and human rights activists. Discussions addressed the most controversial provisions of the draft law, which was originally proposed by the National Council for Motherhood and Childhood.

While the participants agreed upon certain social protection provisions included in the draft, they differed on other elements, primarily those that proved contentious during its reading in the PA.

During discussions last month by the PA’s legislative committee, some NDP members had agreed with Muslim Brotherhood MPs on the need to amend certain passages, such as the criminalization of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), the physical punishment of children, and the legal age for marriage.

Other articles were refused by both the Islamic Research Center and the Muslim Brotherhood, including that which stipulates a jail sentence of between three months and two years for anybody found guilty of committing FGM, along with a fine of between LE 1,000 and LE 5,000.

They also opposed the punishment of those found guilty of the physical abuse of children, with the imprisonment period being doubled in the case of abuse carried out by parents, as well as the outlawing of marriage for girls below 18 years of age.

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