Egyptian film sparks upset over its depiction of children and sexuality
Screen shot of Halawit Rouh (Sweetness of a Spirit) movie trailer
By MUHAMMAD GHAMRAWY

CAIRO: The Secretary-General of the Egyptian Coalition on Children’s Rights Hany Helal told The Cairo Post on Sunday the Egyptian movie Halawit Rouh (Sweetness of a Spirit) represents a manifestation of the violation of children’s rights.

“Using children in cinema should be in accordance to standards,” he said. “The cinema should respect children’s rights.”

The movie, which is in cinemas currently, centers on a woman named Rouh (Lebanese singer Haifa Wehbe) whose her husband is working abroad. Rouh lives in a squatter area of Egypt along with her mother-in-law and faces many troubles due to the absence of her husband. She appears wearing sexy clothing to draw the attention of all the men and even children who are snooping on her. But she tries to remain faithful to her husband.

The movie has been compared to the Italian film “Malena,” in which “a woman provokes sensual awakenings in a group of adolescent boys,” according to the film description.

The Egyptian version is being criticized by the coalition for “not having any message or even tackling social issues but just including sexual scenes,” Helal said, adding that such movies will lead to an increase in sexual harassment and rape among children because such movies highlight their sexual nature.

He said the coalition is currently considering suing the filmmakers for violating the rights of children set forth in international conventions and Egypt’s child laws.

The National Council for Childhood and Motherhood also deplored the use of children in cinema “in inappropriate scenes,” alluding to the movie in a statement issued last week.

The council said the movie exposes children to moral danger by including scenes that involve them in situations that violate the Child Law, Act 126 for 2008.

Film critic Tarek el-Shenawy told The Cairo Post that the problem with the film is not the use of the children in the movie, clarifying that children participate in horror movies across the world despite being banned from watching such movies.

Rather, the problem is with the movie itself, he said.

“There was no movie, the movie does not have a vision …it’s a lousy movie,” he said.

The director of the movie, Sameh Abdel-Aziz, rejected the criticism, saying in an interview with the state-owned newspaper Al-Ahram that the movie reflects real-life situations in Egypt.

Abdel-Aziz also accused the media of “exaggeration,” adding that the censors objected to some scenes and he respected their decision and deleted them.

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