CAIRO: The draft of the unified personal status law would exacerbate the sufferings of Copts pursuing a divorce, rights activists and Copts supporting divorce said.
In a conference held at the Hisham Mubarak Law Center last Saturday, rights activists said the new draft law contradicts with the constitution and would further isolate Christians.
Rights activist Tamer Abdel-Aziz described the draft law — jointly prepared by all churches in Egypt — as unsound, stressing its unconstitutionality.
“The draft law ignores the legal role of the state, the Ministry of Justice and the Department of Civil State Organization. It indirectly withdraws the authority of the ministry as the official registrar of marriage contracts and hands it to the Church.”
The conference provided testimonials from Copts who are trying to get a divorce. A woman who identified herself as A. claimed that her husband is homosexual but the Church refuses to divorce her. Another woman, who preferred to remain anonymous, said that she supported her husband while he was getting treated for impotency. But for 10 years after that she’s been subject to physical abuse and humiliation and hasn’t been able to acquire a divorce.
Maged Maher, pediatrics psychology specialist, presented a paper about the effects of the divorce ban on children. The paper argued that children raised in unstable marriages are prone to psychological and behavioral problems such as depression and drug addiction.
Shepherd of the Evangelical Church in Shubra Priest Refaat Shokry said that the problem is that the Church considers marriage officiated outside it as adultery, although this wasn’t the case with earlier churches.
Conference participants called for a unified civil law on personal status for all Egyptians, whether Muslim or Christian, that would provide civil or religious marriage according to people’s preferences.