Cairo: Five months after a provincial court appointed her as Egypt’s first woman marriage registrar, Amal Sulaiman Afifi believes her battle for recognition is far from over.
“I cannot do the job because the Ministry of Justice has not yet endorsed the court ruling,” said Afifi, 34.
“Rumour has it that the court ruling was politically motivated in order to please women in Egypt, and that it would not be implemented,” Afifi, a mother of three, told Gulf News.
On February 25, a family court in Zaqaziq, some 70km north of Cairo, chose Afifi for the job over ten other applicants due to her “distinguished legal qualifications”. A holder of a university degree in law, Afifi obtained an MA in law in 2005.
“As a female marriage registrar, I will be in a better position than my male counterparts to listen to women facing marriage difficulties, and assist them and their partners in resolving their differences,” said Afifi in an earlier interview.
“I was the only one among the applicants holding an MA degree in Sharia. Besides, I was sure that I would not be excluded on gender grounds. Islam and the law treat men and women equally.”
Afifi’s appointment to the position, usually held by men in this predominantly Muslim country of 79 million, has generated controversy.
While Ali Juma’a, Egypt’s Mufti, declared that there were no restrictions in Islam on women to operate as marriage registrars, other Muslim clerics disagreed.
“This job is unfit for women as it usually requires mixing with men for a long time, a requirement that is against Islam,” said Anwar Dabour, a professor of Sharia.
“It is unwise to allow women to work as marriage registrars, especially as there are many qualified men around who can do the job,” Dabour told this paper.
Though displeased at the official delay in recognising her appointment, Afifi is resolved to win this recognition.
“I do not need the job for financial reasons. I just want to prove to everyone that women can do all jobs like men,” Afifi said this week.
Local pro-women groups have started campaigning for the Ministry of Justice to endorse Afifi’s appointment.
An official at the ministry, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the court ruling is being studied and approval would be given in “due course”.