CAIRO: News of the arrest of an Egyptian couple for soliciting other married couples through the internet, inviting them to their home for “spouse-swapping parties, instigated debate among local and international media as well as human rights organizations.
A 48-year-old civil servant and his 37-year-old teacher wife, whose names haven t been disclosed, were arrested last week for organizing parties publicized via the internet where they would swap spouses with other married couples.
The Cairo couple, who have children and used the pseudonyms Magdy and Samira on the website and in emails, could face up to three years in prison if convicted of facilitating prostitution, Agence France-Press (AFP) reported.
However, Gamal Eid, executive director of the Arab Network for Human Rights Information, condemned the arrests.
“Regardless of our religious ideology and traditions, no one has the right to approve, disapprove or interfere in what a person does consensually in his own home, Eid told Daily News Egypt.
Moreover, Hossam Bahgat, director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) told AFP that “The case raises serious concerns about due process and the privacy rights of those arrested, especially in light of press reports about police interception of defendants’ electronic correspondence.
Eid echoed Bahgat’s opinion adding that “neither the government nor the police forces or religious groups have any right to interfere in other peoples’ lives.
Although Eid is personally repulsed by the crime, he explained that from “a human rights perspective, nobody has the right to interfere in what happens inside the home of other people.
“None of the involved parties were there against their will and no one complained about the behavior or actions of the accused, Eid added.
According to Eid, the police intercepted the couple’s private emails which facilitated the arrests – an act that Eid heavily criticizes.
The couple confessed to the judge of the North Giza Court to having sexual relations with three other couples out of the 44 couples who signed up for the “swinging sessions through a pornographic website. Several other suspects – including a lawyer – were arrested, according to AFP and the couple has been detained for 15 days pending investigations.
Magdy reportedly insisted that couples present a marriage contract before participating in any activities, fearing that they might be using a temporary, or urfi marriage certificate.
He also confessed to going to the couples’ homes on condition that the “sexual encounter between the two couples all takes place in one room, and added, “I get sexually excited when I see my wife sleeping with another man.
Samira, on the other hand, said that her husband was the one who convinced her to go along with this idea.
Ahmed Sayed, an Islamist lawyer, told Daily News Egypt, that any crime is divided into two parts, “the intention to commit the crime and the execution of the crime. Only the latter is punishable by law, he explained.
However, Sayed insisted that the crime committed in this case should be punished by law.
“The couple publicized for their spouse-swapping parties, which is considered solicitation, punishable by law for spreading debauchery by jail sentences or fines, Sayed said, explaining however that Egyptian law does not criminalize adultery unless one of the spouses presses charges against the other.
“They [the Egyptian security forces] cannot arrest people who are doing these things at their own will. Nobody is forcing them, a man whose number was found on the website told the Associated Press.
Local press reported that security forces were able to arrest the couple after they recorded a conversation between them and a young Gulf Arab man in an online chat room.
The Arab man had asked the arrested husband to show his face on the webcam so that his wife can “check it out. “If she liked you, she will arrive to Cairo in a few hours and will meet you in any hotel or apartment there.
According to local news reports, three couples from Al-Qanater Al-Khayria, Al-Manashy and Al-Haram districts along with another man from the Gulf and his wife were all reported to have broken all ties with the couple after news of their arrest spread.