Equality Now has just issued an Urgent alert on draft legislation in Egypt which would lower the minimum age of marriage and could be voted on at any moment.
Egypt’s People’s Assembly Council is currently discussing legislation that would reduce the minimum age of marriage for girls from 18 to possibly as low as 9 years old and could vote on the final draft bill at any moment. If adopted, girls could be married off by their families without their consent putting them at risk of physical and psychological harm, as well as cutting short other life opportunities, such as pursuing their education. Such measures make Egyptian women, including the umbrella organization Alliance for Egyptian Women, fearful that their rights are being rapidly eroded post-revolution.
Other draft legislation limiting a mother’s access to her children upon divorce and the reported denunciation in Parliament of the 2008 ban on female genital mutilation (FGM), are giving Egyptian women cause for extreme concern.
“Words of witness” is a documentary, that follows Heba Afify, a young egyptian woman, during the revolution in Egypt. The film was screened for the first time yesterday at the Berlinale film festival, where you can watch it today, tomorrow and on 17th of February. In an interview with the journal “Die Zeit” she said, that the revolution was still far from reaching its goals. In the beginning they were euphoric and thought: “Now we live in freedom and democracy.” But during the last year (after the revolution) little has been done and some things had gone even worse.
The synopsis of the film
A few months before Mubarak’s resignation a young journalist named Heba Afify began working for the English-language edition of an independent Egyptian daily newspaper called Al-Masry Al-Youm. WORDS OF WITNESS follows the protests on Tahrir Square and Heba’s impassioned efforts to reflect the diversity of people’s opinions and their new-found voice. This film sweeps the viewer along with Heba’s enthusiasm and determination to find the right words with which to convey the truth. It also shows us how Heba actively participates in the protests and sometimes finds herself in potentially dangerous situations. Every day she is also obliged to do battle with her own mother who feels Heba’s behaviour is not seemly for a young woman in Egyptian society.
Multi-award-winning Egyptian-American documentary filmmaker Mai Iskander’s work provides a dense picture of the social and political upheaval in Egypt and the struggle for a new order; it also gives us a graphic description of the power of social media such as Twitter and Facebook in fuelling such protests. Or – as Heba’s mother asks at one point: “What happens when I press ‘share’?”