“Farewell sex” law story suggests Egypt’s media is up to its old tricks
A story last week that a law was about to be passed in Egypt allowing a husband to have sex with his wife’s corpse certainly made for some lurid headlines.
But after Mervat el-Tallawy, president of the National Council for Women denied the claims yesterday, many are left wondering if they are a sign Al Ahram, Egypt’s oldest newspaper is up to its pre-2011 tricks.
The “farewell intercourse” story trail can be followed back to an opinion piece published in Al Ahram by Amr Abdul Samea, a supporter of former president Hosni Mubarak.
It claimed that Mervat el-Tallawy, the head of Egypt’s National Council for Women, had complained that Egypt’s parliament was considering passing an Islamist-sponsored law that would allow husbands to have sex with their wives after death.
Egyptian ON TV also reported the story and after it was translated into English by Al Arabiya, it was pounced on by the internet and western media, including Reuters and The Daily Mail, which suggested that the legislation had already gone through.
When rep0rts that the story was untrue emerged, WVoN removed its coverage.
Commentators suggest that the furore was all down to state supported newspaper Al Ahram continuing in the role it played under Mubarak of discrediting Islamists.
But while the debate continues, it appears that there is a draft law before the Egyptian parliament that could affect women’s rights, namely one that would allow girls to be married at the age of 14 instead of 18.
Whatever purposes such controversies serve, there are no doubt concerns that with only eight women MPs in the parliament and some of those on the socially conservative side of the spectrum, women’s freedoms could be endangered.
Of course, many fear that the revolution itself is under threat, which means that there are many battles ahead, including the right to be involved in the drafting of the new constitution.