Marva Khallaf, the campaign speaker for ‘Tamarod’ – a grassroots Egyptian movement – started a hashtag ‘Italaqi Americani’ (Ger an American Divorce) as a way of fighting family law, hoping to make public information of cases in which wives filed for and divorced their husbands without their husbands knowing.
Khallaf explained that the campaign urges those who suffered damages resulting from corruption that occurred during their case proceedings to publicize the name of the judge and the judicial circuit number, as well as the names and the addresses of the lawyers who supported the wife.
Moreover, she urged the husbands to publicize the date of the rulings and the names of their ex-wives, and went as far as calling for the publicization of their residential addresses.
Khallaf believes this ‘American divorce’ goes against Islamic rulings, since they happened without the knowledge of “he who has the power to divorce,” known in Arabic as ‘Al Esma’. It has resulted in damages, including wives not returning their dowries and gifts, she says. Moreover, she claimed that this kind of divorce was beyond men’s ability to appeal.
As for why women would file for divorce against their husband, Khallaf claimed that most women conspire with lawyers to avoid paying back the dowries their husbands had given them, destroying the sanctity of marriage and turning a scared thing into a self-serving, law-manipulating game.
Finally, Khallaf accused ‘Kholaa’ (women filing for divorce) of generating doubts regarding the religious acceptability of its permissiveness, in cases of a wife not returning gifts, accusing these women of being unfit to raise children after divorce.
Currently, the law grants divorced women custody of their children. There is, however, a proposed law being considered to allow custody until the age of 18, which, Khallaf says, goes against Islamic teachings and promotes the essentiality of a new joint custody law, which allows both divorced parents to have custody to the children.
According to a study conducted by the Parliament’s Information Center in 2016, Egypt has the highest divorce rates in the world.
The study showed that every four minutes, a couple get divorced in Egypt, creating a divorce rate of 250 each day.
When the United Nations (UN) conducted a similar study in 2015, in addition to proving Egypt has the highest divorce rate in the world, they uncovered that most of these cases are ‘Khulaa’ – a divorce which is permitted by Islamic law in the case that the women seeks a separation and returns the dowries gifted to her from her husband.
The main reasons for Khulaa, the UN found, were economic, social, and health-related, as well linked to substance addiction.
Meanwhile, the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics also published a study in 2017 which showed in 2016 there were 90,000 reported Khulaa cases.