Egypt’s population is 103 million with Muslim majority population. الجهاز المركزي للتعبئة العامة والإحصاء https://capmas.gov.eg/ Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) Unfortunately, there are no official percentage on how many Muslims are in the country, but it is estimated to be 92%https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/muslim-population-by-country of the total population. Muslims and non-Muslims are governed by the same laws in the country except for family laws. However, if a non-Muslim resorts to court, Muslim family laws apply in matters of inheritance.
Information About Muslim Family Laws And/or Practices in Egypt
Laws Governing Marriage and Family
The Egyptian Muslim Family Law in Egypt was firstly issued in 1920 and it passed several developments as attempts to reform it starting 1920 until 2005.http://www.wluml.org/ar/node/5686 The PSL No. 25 of 1920 was promulgated in Egypt on maintenance and alimonies, it was later amended by Law No. 25 of 1929. Afterwards, the following amendments were issued on specific topics within PSL; Law No. 100 of 1985, Law No. 1 of 2000 and finally Law No. 4 of 2005 regarding the amendment of the age of custody.
While it is considered one of the earliest codified laws in the region, the practices sometimes are drawn or subjected to the common culture. For example, the law allows women to contract their marriage without a wali (a guardian), yet the marriage registrar (Maazoun) will deny her such right due to cultural reasons. Furthermore, the dower can be written in the marriage contract, but since it’s not considered a sufficient protection for women in case of divorce, families resort to what’s known as “the furniture list”. This list is not governed by the family law; in fact, it is governed by civil and criminal law; therefore, many families resort to it as a way to keeping the wife’s rights.
Family matters are overseen by family courts which were established in 2004. Sharia courts were eradicated in the 1960s yet the law itself is based on sharia interpretations especially the Hanafi doctrine. There are several calls to amend PSL which resulted in formulating a committee to amend it in 2022. The committee has not yet formulated any drafts.
Equality in Marriage
The law does not treat women and men equally in marriage or divorce. In marriage, women have the right to contract their marriage by themselves according to Hanafi Math-hab; however, in practice, the marriage registrar (Maazoun) will not allow it.(Law no. 1 for 2000 for matters of personal status. The Egyptian Governorate. (egypt.gov.eg). 29 January 2000). انون رقم 1 لسنه 2000 باصدار قانون تنظيم بعض اوضاع واجراءات .pdf (egypt.gov.eg) Also, “Good reputation” for women is ethical which means she has to dress and behave properly according to society’s norms while for men it means financial ability.
Minimum Age of Marriage
Minimum age of marriage according to law is 18; however, in practice the law does not penalize marrying off people below the age of 18, it only penalizes the documentation of such marriage. This opens a back door to child marriage to be conducted unofficially.
Divorce Provisions for Women and Men
Divorce is not equal for men and women.
Positive Feature(s) Under Muslim Family Law
- Age of custody (15 years old)
- Custodial list (mothers are automatically granted the custody over her children)
- Women can contract their own marriages
Administration Of And Access To Justice On Marriage And Family Matters
Marriage is contracted by the marriage registrar (Maazoun) who is an employee of the Ministry of Justice. Divorce can happen through Maazoun or through courts. Men have unilateral right to divorce their wives through the Maazoun while women have to resort to court in order to obtain such a right.
Constitutional Provisions and National Legislation
The Egyptian constitution issued in 2014 stipulates equality and justiceEgypt 2014 (rev. 2019) Constitution – Constitute (constituteproject.org) https://www.constituteproject.org/constitution/Egypt_2019?lang=en for all Egyptians regardless of their sex among other factors. Article 53 states that all citizens are equal before the law, Article 93 stipulates that the state is bound by the international conventions, and Article 11 stipulates that the state shall take all necessary measures to achieve equality between men and women and protect the family.
Other National Laws
There are not any legislations on domestic violence or gender-based violence; however, a draft law has been presented to the parliament pending approval. The Penal Code does not have any articles on marital rape or domestic violence; in fact, Article 60 of the Penal CodeEgypt Penal Code (1973/58), https://vdocument.in/egypt-penal-code-197358.html?page=1 justifies violence under sharia rights as the general understanding is that it’s a man’s right to discipline his wife.
Egypt had ratified the CEDAW in 1981 with a general reservation related to sharia law.
Regional or International Human Rights Principles
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)
Egypt had ratified CEDAW in 1981 with reservations on Articles 2, 9, and 16.Provisions of CEDAW Reservation, https://www.eddusaver.com/provisions-of-cedaw-reservation/#:~:text=Egypt%E2%80%99s%20CEDAW%20Reservation%20The%20Government%20of%20Egypt%20has,technicalities%20on%20determining%20different%20nationality%20when%20parents%20divorce. Later in 2010, the reservation of Article 9 was lifted but the other reservations remain. There is also a general reservation related to shariah interpretation.
The last CEDAW review was in 2020 after 10 years of submitting the previous report.
Link to Musawah’s CEDAW reports on this country
Any other relevant regional or international treaty or convention signed by Egypt
Egypt has signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in July 1990https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/TreatyBodyExternal/Treaty.aspx?Treaty=CRC&Lang=en
Sustainable Development Goals
Egypt has signed the SDGs and has submitted 3 VNRs in 2016, 2018, and 2021 so far.Voluntary National Reviews .:. Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform, https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/vnrs/ The state has also launched the 2030 vision strategy based on the SDGs to monitor the progress of them. Additionally, Egypt has launched the 2030 Empowerment of Women strategy that mentions SDG5 and CEDAW.
Key Resources About Muslim Family Law
By local researchers, activists and civil society groups
By government agencies/committees
National Groups and Campaigns Working on Muslim Family Law
- Guardianship is my right: A joint campaign organized by Women and Memory Forum (WMF) and CEWLA on women’s rights in the family law. The campaign erupted after a draft family law – allegedly proposed by the cabinet – was announced. #الولاية_حقي
- PSL signatories collection by CEWLA
Muslim Family Law was codified on alimony (Law 25)
First amendment to the law governing divorce.
Amendments to some articles on 1920 and 1929 laws
Khul’ law was passed (Law no. 1)
Establishing family courts
Amending age of custody to 15 years old
A decree issued by the Minister of Justice ordered the formulation of a committee to amend PSL that consists mainly of judges
This country page was prepared by Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance (CEWLA) as a collaboration under the Campaign for Justice in Muslim Family Laws.