Egyptian women granted inheritance rights

by WorldTribune Staff, December 13, 2017

Egyptian parliament has passed a law granting women their legitimate right to inheritance.

Article 49 of the law, passed on Dec. 5, states that anyone who deliberately denies the heir, be it a man or a woman, their legal share of inheritance or confiscates a document confirming this share will be imprisoned for six months and subjected to a fine of between 20,000 and 100,000 Egyptian pounds (U.S. $1,119 and $5,596).

Egyptian men often forge deeds to keep women from gaining their rightful inheritance. / Reuters

Egyptian President Abdul Fatah Sisi, who has dubbed 2017 “The Year of Women,” said: “We must change the norms and put an integrated program in to redraw the real image of women and promote their status.”

Both Muslim and Christian texts in Egypt stipulate a woman’s right to inheritance, but each year numerous complaints and cases are filed by women who have waited years without a ruling on their inheritance. The preponderance of the cases are in Upper Egypt where, analysts say, sexist norms deprive women of their social and economic rights.

Mona Soliman, a woman in her 50s who filed a complaint with the National Council for Women (NCW), told Al-Monitor, “I was deprived of my father’s inheritance, which my brothers claimed as their own. They said they wanted to prevent my husband’s family from taking a piece of the land.”

She added, “Five years on, no ruling has been issued to give me back my right after my brothers said before the court in the Minya governorate that the land ownership was transferred to them on my father’s death bed and that he told them not to give me ownership.”

Family members who want to deprive women of their right to the inheritance often forge title deeds before the judiciary. Khadija Hussein, a woman in her 40s from Bani Suef, told Al-Monitor, “After my husband died, his brothers deprived me of the property we live in under the pretext that he did not have any male heirs. They manipulated the title deeds to show the court that the property was theirs, and I could not prove they had forged the papers.”

Muslim and Christian scholars approved of the new law. Ahmed Karima, a Sharia teacher at Al-Azhar University, told Al-Monitor, “The law complies with the principles of Sharia and confronts beliefs and norms that deprive women of their legitimate right to their parents’ or relatives’ inheritance – an act generally classified as apostasy. God’s orders mentioned expressly in Surat an-Nisa in the inheritance verses [that the Islamic law] should be obeyed.”

The pastor of St. Mark’s Catholic Church in Minya, Andraos Farage, told Al-Monitor, “Christianity gave women the right to equal inheritance with men. But the church receives complaints from women because of their deprivation of the inheritance and their relatives’ greed under the pretext of norms and traditions, especially in Upper Egypt governorates.”

Farage said “The church intervenes when women fail to get their rights through the judiciary. Most solutions – such as reconciliation sessions – are moderate to alleviate the injustice but do not give women their full rights.”

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