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Year: 2007 Type: Report Language: English

This report presents the findings of a field study on family courts in Egypt. The aim of this twelve-month ethnographic research, which started in January 1, 2007, was to conduct an in-depth study of the litigation process in family courts in order to identify its strengths and weaknesses in regard to meeting the legal needs of female disputants and strengthening their rights. A secondary goal of the study was to examine the effect of the new structures of family courts (e.g. mediation) on the implementation of khul law, In this study, legal reforms were studied as a dynamic process through which the laws are performed, negotiated, and sometimes subverted through the practices, the views, and interactions of disputants, their accompanying families, court personnel, and lawyers. Data was collected through in depth interviews with litigants, individuals involved in the reform process and court personnel. The contents of the files of twenty-five court cases were analyzed. The report is divided into 3 chapters. Chapter 1 briefly outlines the main initiatives for legal reforms in Egyptian family law in the last four decades. Chapter 2 reports the findings of the ethnographic research that was conducted on the litigation process in family courts in Egypt. Chapter 3 sums up the main findings and conclusions of the study and concludes with a number of recommendations for a just family law. The results show that the new court system’s role in strengthening women’s access to a fair legal process and affordable and fairly swift justice is diminished by interrelated problems of legislative gaps, procedural shortcomings, lack of effective implementation mechanisms, and the gendered politics inherent in the legal process.