Egypt to Introduce “Farewell Intercourse” laws? Not likely.
I awoke this morning ready to rip into Egypt for reports that came to light about a proposed law that would allow Egyptian men to have sex with their deceased wives for up to 6 hours after their death. This practice would of course bring cries of condemnation from around the world, from feminists and human rights advocates alike. You and I would be horror-stricken if such a practice was allowed to be introduced.
This only problem is, I fear this report is actually baseless, and Egypt has been the victim of the internet, and its propensity for spreading rumours faster than the facts can be checked. No less than 68 individual newspapers online and blogs worldwide have reports on this supposed “law”, all parroting what was said in the original piece, and accompanying the articles with evocative pictures of scarved women yelling in protest. According to The Christian Science Monitor’s Dan Murphy:
Murphy goes on to reveal that he thinks the chances of a law such as this being passed in Egypt are “zero”, and that the opinion piece was purposefully inflammatory and designed to discredit the Islamic Brotherhood, now in power in Egypt. The website Tunisia Live backs this position and says:
I knew I could smell a rat when I first read the article, so thought it better to do a little digging before going off half-cocked. American Muslim has a good rundown of the facts and fictions from this report, but uses “Islamophobia” as the reason for the speed of the spread of this “news”, and unchecked “facts” of this case.
It doesn’t mean, however, that all is well and good within the Egyptian borders. Buried in the inflammatory report was a couple of proposals that are alarming. The first is a proposal to lower the marriage age for young women from 16 to 14, and the other are a series of laws designed to keep women from education. All this less than a week after the article by journalist Mona Eltahawy, titled “Why Do They Hate Us?” was published, which I wrote about on Wednesday.
It seems to me that the countries that have sought and fought revolution in North Africa are in a perilous position, where the minor voices of extreme views can be heard equally as loudly as those more moderate ones, and that the Internet is amplifying them equally.
I have written before that there are extreme misogynistic tendencies in Islamic states, but the absurd notion of a “sex after death” clause is not one that would particularly worry me. It’s sick, and any notion of it makes me ill just thinking about it, but in the end it would be a choice for the sick individual who would want to practice such an act. The lowering of the marriage age however is quite alarming, and any laws that seeks to deny women the education they deserve should be frowned upon. These stories are yet to be confirmed, but it has piqued my interest nonetheless.
I’ll be keeping my eyes on Egypt and the Middle East. It’s an unstable place, and one that should be monitored to make sure that any new laws that are passed by these governments is not the decision of overly zealous theocrats hell-bent on keeping their women in chains or as chattels.