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In 2017, the Egyptian parliament passed a new Inheritance law, law 219, giving women their legitimate right to inheritance after the majority had been deprived of it, especially in Upper Egypt where cultural norms and traditions dispossess women of this vital right. Yet, the application of the new law led to many complications and worsened the situation as some judges disagreed on the best way to apply it, and many defendants were declared innocents despite having abused women’s rights to inheritance. To a certain point, these practices emptied the law of its essence.
To tackle this issue, Badr Association in Sohag organized a roundtable gathering 25 judges, lawyers, civil society members, journalists and members of parliament, along with representatives of the National Council for Women, with the main goal of debating the need for urgent measures to bring the inheritance law back on track in terms of defending women’s right to inheritance.
During the meeting, Mr. Yousri Al Qadi, head of Saqatleh (Sohag Governorate) Bar Association, presented a paper on the current law and its development starting from 1943 until its amendment through law no. 219 of 2017.
For his part, Councillor Ahmad El Zein, head of Al Wadi Al Jadid Court, presented a working paper on the problems judges face in courts due to this erred law. He explained for instance how women who deposit complaints or resort to justice are often unable to prove that they were deprived of their inheritance. Social and traditional customs were also identified as one of the main obstacles that are still hindering women’s access to justice.
By the end of the meeting, participants agreed on the need to mandate legal experts to draft a new law to be submitted to parliament for discussion. Meanwhile Badr Association managed to engage journalists and parliamentarians in raising the public opinion´s awareness in this regard and in insisting on the need for a new applicable legislation.
It its worth mentioning that Article 49 of law 219 states that anyone who deliberately denies the heir, be it a man or a woman, their legal share of the inheritance or confiscates a document confirming this share shall be jailed for six months at least and be subject to a fine ranging between 20,000 Egyptian pounds (950 EUR) at least and 100,000 pounds (4750 EUR) at most. In case of recidivism, the prison sentence shall be no less than one year.
This event was built on the efforts initiated during the advocacy campaign implemented by Badr Association within the framework of the CSO WINS project "Capacity building in Southern Mediterranean to open policy dialogue and monitoring for women in society". CSO WINS is funded by the European Union and coordinated by the European Institute of the Mediterranean, in synergy with the Euro-Mediterranean Women’s Foundation.
More information on the campaign and the project are available in link below, as well as in the attached publication.
This platform is part of the Axis 1 "Strengthening the capacities of equality actors" of the Priority Solidarity Fund "Women for the future in the Mediterranean" funded by the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs and led by the European Institute of the Mediterranean, in the framework of the project “Developing Women's Empowerment” labelled by the Union for the Mediterranean.
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