An Scandal in Egypt

In Egypt if you are a rich young woman who gets pregnant out of wedlock, there is a simple solution: you have an abortion, you get your hymen “refurbished” and your parents marry you off to the first unwitting suitor they can find. An article in the NY Times described a woman who took a different tack…having the child, and now suing the TV star father and forcing him, gasp!, to take a DNA paternity test.

Egyptians of all stripes are following this case with rapture, and outside the family courtroom has “become a commentator’s souk” where everyone has an opinion to share. One young woman said that she thought the woman’s case would help defeat the conservative values brought over from Saudi Arabia in the ’60s. “These values are from Wahhabi Islam, this is petrodollar Islam, where women are considered objects for sex….we need to give women the same rights as all citizens.” Others accuse the mother of being a gold-digger, and a tramp. As a result, urfi marraiges, where couples marry in secret and avoid the required dowry expense and rituals, have become a hot topic on TV soap operas, and this case may indeed move Egypt’s society in a new direction.