Poster from light movie Sayedati Anesaty (ladies and gentlemen), where late actor Mahmoud Abdel Aziz's character marries four women
CAIRO - 24 November 2021: The House of Representatives is debating means to limit marital polygamy as the public have strongly expressed mixed opinions about the controversial issue.
On the backdrop of Big Ramy's second marriage a month after winning Mr. Olympia for the second time in a row, several female lawmakers have criticized the fact that Egyptian men may marry for the second time while the first wife is oblivious.
It is unknown whether Big Ramy's first wife knew of his marriage before or after his wedding, but netizens have used the news to raise awarness on the issue.
MP Amal Salama has said she was preparing a draft law that criminalizes a man's second marriage without written evidence from the first wife that she had been made aware.
Other MPs demanded that the husband be fined and jailed in case he did not acknowledge his social status in the second marriage certificate, or did not produce proof that his first wife knows about his intentions.
A few weeks ago, an Egyptian TV drama series, Illa Ana (all but me), stirred another controversy surrounding marriage laws in Egypt, where a man may divorce his wife without her consent or giving her part of his wealth no matter how many years she had spent with him and no matter the capital he had accumulated during their marriage.
He would only be obliged to pay for her expenses for two years and three months, dubbed amenety payments, an amount that can be easily manipulated by the husband because it is not a fixed percentage or figure, but rather an amount that is estimated based on the husband's income and the couple's living conditions. It is commonplace that a man submits paperwork at the court proving his income is way less than his true revenue.
Salama proposed that a divorced woman is given a quarter of her husband's wealth if she had been married for over 20 years. However, her suggestion was not welcomed by Al-Azhar, Egypt's top Islamic entity, the other parties of concern, or the the majority of the parliament.
Her idea was replaced by attempting to draft a law giving the woman the right to sue her ex over compensation commensurate with the number of marriage years with a minimum of L.E. 2,000 ($127) for every year. The proposal also includes a written consent from the first wife should her husband marry again.
On social media, those opposing any change to the social status laws rely heavily on the interpretations of Islamic texts and fatwa (official opinion related to Islam) and often accuse their opponents of violating the religion. They emphasize the conditions a man has to follow if he chose polygamy, such as equal time spent with each wife as well as equal money, and the amenity payments in the event of divorce.
However, if they are faced by other interpretations that give more rights to women, some accuse the sheikhs producing such fatwas of pandering to the government and its plans for the society.