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Egypt mulls council for men amid furore

Feminists repudiate the proposal, saying men are not discriminated against

Gulf News

Cairo: A prominent Egyptian lawmaker plans to present a draft bill to parliament for the creation of a state-run council for men, a proposal that has angered women’s rights advocates.

MP Omar Hamrush, who heads the religious committee at the legislature, has said the aim of the proposed body is to address problems faced by men, who account for more than half of Egypt’s population of nearly 95 million people.

“There are many problems facing men that necessitate the existence of a national council for men,” Hamrush said in a press statement. “There are men’s rights, which nobody has called for [in Egypt] because they were not studied by a specialised council. For example, some European laws give the husband the right to paternity leave,” Hamrush said.

In Egypt, women workers get three months of paid maternity leave.

“Maintaining silence over men’s problems means creating more problems in society and for the family, indirectly harming the woman,” Hamrush argued.

He added his draft was inspired by the “achievements” already made by the National Council for Women, a state-appointed institution of 30 members set up in 2000.

“The aim of establishing a national council for men is to study their problems, suggest solutions and present them to the agencies concerned. This will boost cohesion between men and women, the pillars of the family.”

He explained that the envisaged council will comprise public figures and specialists, and will be funded by the state budget.

His proposal has drawn fire mainly from women, who make up 48.4 per cent of Egypt’s population, according to a 2017 census.

“Specialised national councils are set up in order to support segments of society that face hard circumstances and whose rights are violated,” said Intissar Al Saeed, the chairwoman of the non-governmental group, Cairo Foundation for Development and Law.

She told private newspaper Sout Al Ummah that men in Egypt do not suffer discrimination.

“Do men suffer from problems resulting from wrong traditions and misconceptions such as violence and deprivation from inheritance, of which the woman is the victim?” she asked. “Before presenting such draft laws to parliament, legislators should first put them forward for a societal dialogue.”

No date has been set for debating Hamrush’s draft in parliament, which is dominated by government supporters.

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