Why Egypt Needs a Ministry of Women’s Affairs

Violence against women is a humiliation of human dignity.

It violates all international treaties and is against all the monotheistic religions .

It is totally against human rights which have been both guaranteed by religion and defended by state law.

There are some political and social reasons that have led to the increase of violence in general and especially against women. Despite the efforts of women and struggle for equal rights the violence continues. Society needs women for social, political and economic benefits.

Violence against women is present in all sectors of society, regardless of social status, religion, culture or the country of residence.

Even though there are many definitions of the word violence, it really means only one thing: the use of force , whether physical or emotional against another person.

Some customs, traditions and social principles have provided excuses for people to perpetrate violence against women. This is in addition to the tribal principles and male culture which elevates men higher than women and denigrate women .

Some find support for this in religious texts which repeatedly explain the role of the man as better than that of women.

They find religious laws that hurt the standing of women in society or deprive her of her role in society.

It allows men excuses to behave violently towards women.

I believe that Islam, it’s texts and certain explanations, some of its laws, is one of the sources of violence against women. There needs to be an enlightened discussions on the topic.

In order to deal with the violence and to put an end to it, we must do the following:

  • Make the courts more effective in dealing with the issue and to put an end to men escaping punishment. To  give the victims what they need and to strengthen the acceptance in society to the cultural changes involved.
  • Implement laws and policies and allocate government funds to change the trends and the damaging cultural norms. We need to teach children while they are still young that violence against women and girls is wrong. Sex education in schools has an important place in strengthening equality betweem males and females and in strengthening mutual respect for one another.
  • Prevent the state in any circumstances from using customs, religion or tradition as an excuse to justify violence perpetuated against women .
  • Arab media coverage on violence against women is either inappropriate or biased towards the man. It does the minimum to get by and does not check facts. TV and film producers in Arab society portray women in their traditional subservient roles without any influence on society.

In the end we must emphasize the need for a ministry for women’s affairs that will enable women to fulfill important roles both politically and socially. Its mission should be to promote women’s role in society and strengthen equal opportunities for all.

Reda el-Danbouki is a lawyer and non-violent human rights activist who works for women’s rights. 


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