CAIRO: A recent law that criminalizes withholding inheritance by an heir “does justice to Egyptian women,” the National Council for Women (NCW) stated Sunday, applauding the law.
“Some inherited negative customs and traditions unfortunately lead to depriving women from her right to inheritance, although [the act] breaches [Islamic] law,” head of the NCW Mervat al-Talawy stated.
On Jan. 6, the Cabinet approved a law stipulating that anyone who deliberately deprives an heir from his inheritance will be jailed for at least six months and/or fined 20,000-100,000 EGP.
Those who withhold documents proving an heir’s right to a share of inheritance will be jailed for a minimum of three months and fined at least 10,000 EGP, regardless of the gender of both the offender and the victim, according to the new law.
The NCW had submitted a draft law to Justice Minister Ahmed al-Zend, proposing a punishment of a year in prison.
The proposal of the NCW was based on “many complaints received from women from all governorates, not just Upper Egypt as commonly believed,” the statement said.
Inheritance law for Muslims in Egypt is governed by Islamic Sharia, which stipulates specific percentages for the immediate family, and in some cases for members of the extended family.
However, some Egyptians do not give minors in the family access to their inheritance share when they reach the age of majority, 18.
Some male relatives also withhold inheritance of female family members, especially if the inheritance is in the form of a land under the premise that her husband would take over her capital. Women are sometimes forced into a waiver.
In 2014, Egypt rejected a recommendation by the United Nations Universal Periodic Review of equal inheritance for men and women.
Although sons inherit twice as much as daughters, there are a number of cases in which women inherit as much or more than men, depending on the heirs’ relation to the deceased, according to Egypt’s Dar al-Iftaa.