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Year: 2007 Type: Report Language: English

In the last decade, there have been several significant family law reforms in Egypt that have impacted the struggle to enhance the legal rights of women in the domain of marriage and family. How have these reforms been brought about? Who were the actors involved in the process? Who are the various interlocutors in the public debate about these reforms? What does this debate tell us about their views and agendas in regard to women’s rights and position in the society? This paper will answer these questions with the aim of providing the context for a study on family courts in Egypt. The purpose of this study is to examine how these reforms are being implemented, to identify the diversions and subversions in the process, and to determine whether these reforms are strengthening the legal rights of women in family disputes. The first section of the paper outlines how Shari'a model of marriage is framed in family law, and the significance of the varied ways in which this religious legal model has been interpreted and implemented. This will be followed by a brief overview of the history of family law reforms in Egypt. Then, the author analyzes the public debate about the recent reforms in Egypt in order to describe the socio-political context that shapes these reforms. In particular, she identifies the discourses and argumentation styles that are used by the different interlocutors in this debate and examine their significance. The concluding section of the paper explains the purpose of this study, the methodology adopted, and the research tools used in the collection of data. The author also briefly reports and discusses the preliminary findings from the first phase of the study.