Understanding Egypt's Sexual Intercourse Law

by LT. COLONEL JAMES G. ZUMWALT, USMC (RET) May 9, 2012

If, as the White House suggests, Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood represents moderate Islam and if it is the most influential component within their Parliament, a macabre draft law proposed by some members should send us a clear message.

The proposed law, the focus of which would make for a bad horror movie in the West, sanctions a perverse form of intercourse for Egyptian husbands.

The Islamist-dominated Egyptian Parliament is to elect a 100-member Constituent Assembly responsible for building a foundation for the new constitution, to include deciding how extensive will be Shariah law's influence.

Action by the assembly is in limbo due to disagreement over its representative composition. But this hasn't precluded draft laws from being considered by Parliament as to Shariah's applicability concerning certain aspects of Egyptian life -- and death.

Initial indications of the direction the constitution is taking under these parliamentarians reveals there is at least one clear loser within Egyptian society.

Women's rights enjoyed limited protection under the Hosni Mubarak-era constitution but those rights may well disappear under a new one.

Ironically, while lobbying to preserve its own influence, the military set the tone for Islamists by announcing the Mubarak-era quota allocated to women for parliamentary representation was being abolished. This is despite the fact women played a prominent role in the revolution -- one fully accepted by their male counterparts at the time.

Women represent almost half the country's population but lslamists want to deny them the few rights Mubarak's rule had guaranteed. With women holding less than 2 percent of parliamentary seats based on the recent election bringing Islamists to power, it appears the sacrifices and risks they undertook during the protests will go unrewarded.

But, as one female activist stated, their fight then must continue as failure to secure such rights now in the constitution means the burden will be borne by future generations of women.

Islamists argue increased family law rights for women have been responsible for rising divorce rates and the demise of family unity. Under Mubarak, women were allowed to divorce without the consent of their husbands and were granted limited child custody rights. Islamic critics therefore blame increased divorce rates upon women exercising such rights, allocating no blame to a husband's spousal abuse, which often is the cause.

More worrisome and further reflective of the disregard for women are two other draft laws Islamists have promoted -- one of which is particularly gruesome.

The first concerns the age of consent for marriage. Currently, the law requires parties to be 18. Draft legislation seeks to reduce the age of consent it to 14.

While the proposed marital consent age reduction runs contrary to Western mores, the second concerns an outrageous law Islamists have proposed, crossing a line even uncivilized societies won't. In a bizarre discussion, they debated the length of time -- after a wife's death-- a husband can "legally" continue to have sexual intercourse with her. Six hours was settled upon as being acceptable. Thus, certain aspects of "moderate" Egypt's laws are focusing on satisfying sexual urges of both the pedophile and the necrophiliac.

The draft legislation is labeled the "Farewell Intercourse Law." Regardless of whether it becomes law, its mere discussion raises the question what kind of sick society even considers legalizing such an act.

As Islamists seek to promote laws benefitting males, its focus isn't to honor a dead wife but to satisfy a husband's sadistic sexual desire. It defies logic how a religion forbidding autopsy, to satisfy medicine's need to know the cause of a death, as it involves desecrating the body yet will permit sexual defilement of a corpse, to satisfy a husband's necrophilia

The only time necrophilia is referenced in Egyptian history was ancient Egyptians' fears that embalmers might violate dead wives. Consequently, husbands would keep a wife's body at home until sufficient decomposition occurred so as to make the practice unappealing.

As to Islam, there is reference in a hadith (a saying attributed to the Prophet Mohammed) that Mohammed consummated his union with a deceased women as he sought to make her his wife in order to relieve her of the "torment" in her grave as she awaited Judgment Day. It is most disturbing, however, that 21st-century Muslims would even consider such a practice acceptable.

A moderate Muslim residing in the United States was once asked what it would take to end conflict between Christians and Muslims. His answer, "Until there are no living Christians or Jews in the world who have not accepted Allah and the Muslim faith."

The message we should take from his response and from this Egyptian legislative effort by a supposedly moderate Islamic government is: Moderate or not, an insurmountable divide exists between Western and Islamic values.

While the global community is comprised of a diverse range of religions and cultures, most are separated by divides capable of being crossed by those willing to build a bridge to better understand them. But, if the moderate Muslims' mindset is non-Muslims must convert or die, if Egypt's Parliament is representative of moderate Islam and if the "Farewell Intercourse Law" is reflective of this moderation, such a mindset creates too great a divide between Islam and the West to ever be crossed. Doing so involves building a bridge much too far.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Lt. Colonel James G. Zumwalt, USMC (Ret.), is a retired Marine infantry officer who served in the Vietnam war, the U.S. invasion of Panama and the first Gulf war. He is the author of "Bare Feet, Iron Will--Stories from the Other Side of Vietnam's Battlefields," "Living the Juche Lie: North Korea's Kim Dynasty" and "Doomsday: Iran--The Clock is Ticking." He frequently writes on foreign policy and defense issues.


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