Three reasons explain why family crimes have increased in Egypt

Egyptian society was shocked about the news of a baby dying after his parents left him hungry for several days until he died in a village in the city of Toukh in Qalyubia Governorate. The case caused a stir and a great shock in the community due to the crime’s ugliness, as the father and mother left their baby at home alone for nine days due to family disputes. The infant’s father returned home after several days spent at work after his wife had left the house to her family home and left the baby after a family dispute with her husband. The husband was surprised by the death of the three-month-old child from severe hunger.

The circulating photos showed the effects of the body’s decomposition on the bed in which baby Anas, who was screaming alone for nine days, was lying until his death. For its part, the public prosecution ordered the two spouses to be held in custody pending investigations, accusing them of intentionally killing their three-month-old son by leaving him without care until his death.

Not the first

Across social media, comments and posts expressed shock at the crime’s ugliness and demanded the maximum punishment to be imposed on the infant’s father and mother. Many questioned the reasons for the spread of family crimes. In recent times, there has been a noticeable increase in the detection of heinous crimes committed by a family member against his relatives in Egypt.

At the end of 2018, a doctor in Kafr al-Sheikh governorate was accused of slaughtering his wife and three children due to family disputes. It has become customary to read news about a father who kills his son, a brother who kills his brother, a husband who slaughters his wife, another who poisons his children and then commits suicide, or a wife who gets rid of her husband. From marital disputes to suspicion over one of the spouse’s behaviour, to the desire to take revenge on the partner, or going through financial hardship or a psychological crisis, there are many causes that result in fathers and mothers killing their children or children murdering their parents.

According to the latest classification of the global database (Numbeo) for classifying countries according to their crime rates, Egypt ranked third in the Arab world and 24 globally in family crimes. Other studies revealed that family murders in Egypt form a quarter to a third of all murders, which is a huge rate. A previous study by the National Centre for Criminal and Social Research confirmed that 92 per cent of these crimes are motivated by honour due to suspicion, mistrust, and rumours.

Family crimes

Many family crimes are committed under the pretext of defending honour and suspicion of misconduct by the wife or daughter. Still, there are other clear reasons for these crimes revealed by the investigations and news circulating. On top of these reasons is the deterioration of economic conditions due to the successive economic shocks that Egyptian society has been subjected to in recent years. The living and economic crises have clearly affected the Egyptian people’s psychological conditions.

According to a study by a criminal sociology professor at Ain Shams University, Hanan Salem, family murders represent a quarter to a third of all murders. Salem explained that modern economic policies are among the main reasons for the doubling of family killing rates due to the severe social and economic problems these policies have caused.

Experts add that among the reasons for the increase in domestic violence are the lack of psychological and social rehabilitation for those intending to marry and the absence of psychological and social support at the spouses’ individual or collective level. Specialists believe that the increase in violence in general in society has cast a shadow on the family, in conjunction with the increase in economic pressures. Observers say that while honour killings and family disputes were the number one cause of family crimes, economic reasons have recently become the main cause. Sociologists point to an unprecedented increase in divorces due to economic problems.

Opponents assert that the Egyptian regime’s economic policies have made financial problems the first cause of family crimes and divorce. It has become clear that the increase in family crimes in recent years is caused by economic conditions afflicting families, where family members kill for school fees or cakes and Eid clothes in light of the inability to bear the cost of living. The tragedies of families’ living and economic conditions began with the liberalisation of the pound’s exchange rate in 2016 and its drastic depreciation against the dollar. This led to an increase in inflation rates with a crazy and frequent rise in the prices of goods and services, especially electricity and water bills and fuel prices, in light of the stability or inappropriate increase of salaries and wages.