The Egyptian Senate debate on domestic violence avoids banned zones

Over the past week, the Senate discussed, in the presence of government officials and religious figures, “the rise in the phenomenon of domestic violence,” starting from Sunday. The most prominent attendees were Minister of Social Solidarity Nevine Kabbaj, Minister of Awqaf Muhammad Mokhtar Gomaa, and others.

Domestic violence is defined as the act committed in the home circle of the victim and includes partners, former partners, family members, relatives, and friends of the family. This violent behaviour causes psychological, physical, sexual, and economic harm and usually requires medical intervention to treat these effects. This violence usually affects women or the weakest links in the family, such as children and the elderly. In Egypt, the most common type is domestic violence against women. Recently, it has reached a high crime rate resulting from this violence, which affects even potential partners, such as cases of killing girls in the street for reasons related to ending the relationship or rejection, as happened with the Mansoura University girl, the most famous of them, or the girl in Sharqia governorate, etc.

The causes of domestic violence from the point of view of officials

Representative in the Senate, Mohamed Haiba, head of the Human Rights Committee, considered that domestic violence does not amount to a disturbing phenomenon, describing it as “a problem that is looking for a solution.” In her speech before the Senate, Minister Nevine Kabbaj said that the phenomenon has risen recently in Egypt as a result of “secularism” or “international education”, among other reasons, adding that her ministry conducted a study on a sample of the poor and middle-class people and discovered that a large part of the violence among youth is not due to poverty, but instead to psychological imbalance, “, especially with the increase in secularism and the absence of religious values.”

Al-Qabbaj added that she believes that education in the past provided “religious and national education and a system of values”, different from international education, but indicates that she is not against the latter. Follow-up: “The media creates a legend about the hero in the form of a perpetrator of violence against women or a person who smokes cigarettes.” She then touched on pursuing unlicensed nurseries to confront any violence against children. As for the representative of Al-Azhar, he did not stray much from what the minister said, and Hassan Khalil, head of the Central Department of Islamic Culture at the Research Academy in Al-Azhar Al-Sharif, confirmed that domestic violence is a “strange” phenomenon for Egyptian society, indicating that Al-Azhar is making an effort by standing shoulder to shoulder with imams and preachers to refute the phenomenon.

Member of the Council, artist Yahya Al-Fakharani, responded to the intervention of the minister and the representative of Al-Azhar, asking the Sheikh of Al-Azhar to interpret the Quranic verse, “And leave them in the beds and beat them” personally, to comment on his speech, the President of the Senate, wishing that his talk was about the role of drama in facing the problem. Still, Al-Fakharani attributed his opposition to his fears of counterproductive results and not-so-good writers. For his part, Minister of Awqaf Muhammad Mukhtar Jumaa said that he did not come in self-defence or defending delayed efforts but rather to be part of the real solution to the problem posed by the Senate and added that there is a responsibility to build awareness shared by religious, educational, media and societal bodies, stressing the role of the family itself in that. Then he began to talk about “strengthening” his ministry’s efforts to combat this phenomenon without further details.

At the end of that discussion, the Senate concluded with two recommendations to confront domestic violence. The first is “establishing an Egyptian organization that aims to strengthen the cohesion of the Egyptian family, reject domestic violence in all its forms, prevent its spread, and work to support societal culture and push it towards consolidating correct behaviour within Egyptian families.” The second is “enacting Legislation to criminalize domestic violence, as in many countries, whether at the regional or international level.”

No real discussion

Although the extended sessions in which the Senate discussed domestic violence, stressing that it is not the responsibility of a particular party, did not address its natural causes apart from talking about the system of values, morals and ideology, whether secular or otherwise. Perhaps the most prominent thing that made the discussion devoid of its content was the acquittal of essential factors such as the societal and economic pressures that citizens suffer from and what negatively affects their psychological and nervous state. Senate officials did not mention that the phenomenon of domestic violence is based primarily on the existence of one party that bullies the other. This expresses a general situation that could be political, the impact of which goes beyond the general to reach within the family at a time when invoking a law is not capable of regulating the relationship between family members and from there to society.

In addition to holding everyone equally responsible, it did not talk about the role of the government and the control of the security services over the media, and the method of managing its publication in a way that guarantees to besiege the phenomenon and not use it to increase the number of views. As well as independent civil society organizations and the security siege on them and preventing them from performing their essential role in confronting such a phenomenon.

Officials did not discuss the role of the General Security in confronting domestic violence and protecting the victims, besides performing their role as it should, instead of playing other roles oppressive to the weaker party! And while the Council recommended legislation to confront domestic violence, if the law did indeed criminalize violence, the text of Article 60 is considered the outlet through which the judge escapes from the offender from his crime, which stipulates that the provisions of the Penal Code do not apply to every act committed with good intent in pursuance of a right established under legislation, about what those in charge of the judiciary in the country call the “right to discipline.” The inadequacy of laws, even if enacted, to solve the problem, while there is no real will to implement the law in a way that achieves its goal, which is not to turn the state into a “jungle.” And if we see that this discussion was not severe enough and that officials and deputies do not have the absolute freedom to discuss the causes of the crisis effectively, then the same Senate that issued recommendations to the President of the Republic presents an advisory opinion, the papers that carry it may not reach the hands of the one to whom it was sent.