Egypt: Man sets fire to wife who didn’t get pregnant

An Egyptian man has set fire to his wife in the Rod El Farag district of Cairo because she didn’t bear him a child in three years.

According to the Egyptian daily newspaper Al-Wafd, Muhammad tied his wife Aya up, poured a flammable substance over her then set her on fire. He left her in their flat and waited on the balcony of his parent’s home, which was in the same building, and did not call the emergency services.

After neighbours called the police and the ambulance they arrived to find she had already suffered severe burns on 70 per cent of her body and damage to one of her lungs. She did not survive the attack.

Neighbours have said Mohamed and his mother were abusing her throughout their marriage because he believed she was infertile. He has been arrested and referred to the Public Prosecution.

In Egypt, 1.5 million women experience domestic abuse every year, or just above 4,000 a day.

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According to the UN, 26 per cent of Egyptian women aged 15-49 have reported domestic violence, though the real figure is thought to be much higher given the fact that many cases are not reported.

Although the Egyptian constitution stipulates women should be protected from violence, domestic violence isn’t actually criminalised under Egyptian law.

In 2017 the National Council for Women prepared a draft law which included punitive measures including one year in prison for men who physically or verbally assault women.

At the time MP Heba Hagras said: “Unfortunately, the problem is also cultural, our society is grown to believe that a father assaulting his daughter is a normal situation, although it causes unusual psychological harm to the girl” adding that domestic violence in Egypt requires “an urgent and clear” legislative text.

However, two years later Egypt still does not have legislation addressing domestic violence specifically. According to the international development organisation IDWA, “laws against domestic violence are a message to women that they have a right to safety.”

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