CAIRO: The People’s Assembly approved amendments to Child Law 12/1996 drafted by the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM) after months-long debates.
One of the most welcome articles was one criminalizing FGM, stipulating a fine of LE 1,000-5,000 or a prison sentence of between three months to two years for anyone found guilty of conducting a Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) procedure.
This article was unanimously approved after a clause was added making the practice permissible in cases of “medical necessity.
Fierce debates and controversy surrounded the amendments pertaining to illegitimate children, the minimum marriage age and FGM. The PA had previously returned these articles to the legislative committee for further revision after MPs suggested more than 60 amendments to each article.
“The draft law was a major breakthrough in protecting children’s rights, but the amendments at the PA made it lose some of its momentum, Khalil Mostafa Khalil, legal advisor at the NCCM, told Daily News Egypt.
The PA approved the proposed article which states that the mother of an illegitimate child can issue a birth certificate for her child even if the father is not present, an article that received both positive and negative feedback.
“The child can’t be blamed for what the parents did, and without a birth certificate the child can’t be enrolled in school and will be raised in the street to become a criminal, a drug dealer or a rapist, Somaya Saad El Din, deputy editor-in-chief of Al-Akhbar newspaper and an expert on child rights, told Daily News Egypt.
Opposition MPs were furious at the approval of this article, saying it will lead to more “fornication, according to Mohamed El Beltagy, a Muslim Brotherhood MP.
“In the end, what the majority wanted is approved, but we don’t necessarily approve of it, he said.
PA speaker Fathi Sorour decided that Article 7 which proposes raising the minimum age of marriage to 18, will be moved from the child law to the family law.
Khalil disapproved, however, saying that, “Moving this article to the family law will only impede its enforcement as the process of adding it to the family law will take another year or so.
The approved law saw opposition from the Muslim Brotherhood bloc. “The Brotherhood bloc disapproves of the new child law; it contradicts our traditions, our culture and our religion. It has been imposed from others on us from abroad, said El Beltagy.
“There are many articles which will lead to the breakdown of the Egyptian family instead of protecting it, he added.
“How can we impose restrictions on marriage which is a holy union on one hand and on the other, officially recognize an illegitimate child, he asked.