Your Kind Is Not Welcome Here

Your Kind Is Not Welcome Here

Your Kind Is Not Welcome Here

A Study on the Treatment of Queer Foreigners by the Egyptian Authorities

Executive Summary:

The report analyses how Egypt treats queer foreigners once they are identified as queer. The information is based on an analysis of Egypt’s immigration laws and case law related to queer people under this law. The report is also based on the analysis of 12 incidents that happened from 2018 to 2022, which involved queer foreigners’ interactions with the authorities. While the treatment of queer foreigners can be arbitrary and highly dependent on the officer or civil servant the queer person is dealing with, some patterns can be identifiable.

The Main findings of the report are:

  1. Egyptian law and case law gives the Ministry of Interior broad powers to deport or deny entry to anyone who disturbs public order and morality; this was interpreted to mean allowing the denial of entry and deportation of those perceived as queer or are actually queer, once identified by the authorities. 
  2. Transgender and gender-nonconforming people are most vulnerable to being denied entry to Egypt because of the mismatch between their gender identity/expression and the information on their passports. All cases documented here involved Transgender and gender-nonconforming people who did not or do not wish to change their legal documents, which make them more vulnerable than others who did change their legal documents. 
  3. Queer refugees also engage in sex work to support themselves, which makes them most vulnerable to arrest and prison. However, there has been no recorded attempt by the State to deport queer refugees who are convicted after serving their prison time. Still, this can change in the future, as the Egyptian State does have a record of deporting refugees before, but for other reasons besides sex work or queerness. Egypt also has a record of deporting non-refugee sex workers, especially females. 
  4. Other foreigners who are not refugees are arrested and deported directly without going to trial or having to spend prison time. Some exceptions exist, mainly if the authorities are sure that the person is also engaged in sex work and not only queer.
  5. While judicial customs are to prosecute both parties in male sex work cases (buyer and sex workers), the authorities make an exception for Gulf States citizens, who are treated as “a victim” and do not face any legal consequences, whether arrest, deportation, or prison time. This is consistent with the general Egyptian authorities’ attitude towards sex tourists from the Gulf, as they are often allowed to get away with whatever they do due to their importance as a viable source of income to the Egyptian State.  

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Femicide in Egyptian society

Femicide in Egyptian society

Femicide in Egyptian society: Motives, Indicators, and Recommendations

By: Ghada Qandeel, Political Science PhD Researcher

In light of the increase in femicide cases in Egypt, the data shows the extent to which this phenomenon occurred, as approximately 51 cases were monitored during only the first quarter of 2023. However, crimes targeting women are still a phenomenon that doesn’t receive much attention. This ignorance is due to several cultural, social, and economic factors. Based on this, this paper discusses and analyzes the concept of femicide, which raises questions about what femicide is and how to analyze this phenomenon through studying its determinants. Moreover, it raises the question of how Egyptian law addresses this phenomenon. And what are the procedures and policies needed to confront it?

Introduction

The United Nations defined femicide as the most extreme and brutal form of violence that women experience. The international community set a goal of eliminating this phenomenon that affects all countries with various cultural and social beliefs despite the difficulty of identifying and measuring femicide correctly. In this regard, femicide can be defined as intentionally killing women just because they are women, which men in their families usually commit. Additionally, femicide comes alongside other forms of gender-based violence such as intimate partner killing, sexual violence, killing women and girls in the name of “honour,” ​​targeting women and girls under armed conflicts, killings due to their sexual orientation and identity and lastly,, deaths related to genital mutilation. 

The term “femicide” dates back to the late 19th century when it was coined to raise awareness of the deaths of women due to violence. It referred to the killing of females by males because they are females. Then, the concept was updated in 1992 to include “the killing of women by men out of hatred, contempt, pleasure, or a sense of ownership, rooted in historically an unequal power relation between women and men.” Nonetheless, Egyptian society did not pay any attention to that concept despite the increasing number of victims of femicide day after day.

Motives:

The murder of the Egyptian student, “Naira Ashraf”, last year by her colleague because she rejected him was considered the spark that shed light on the brutality of femicide in Egypt. Especially since the killer, as in the usual case, is either from the victim’s family or from her close acquaintances. However, similar cases usually make headlines briefly as society often treats such crimes as private matters. It is also important to highlight that only 24 hours after the killing of Nayra Ashraf, two more femicide cases committed by their brothers were reported, which were followed by another dozen cases from various parts of Egypt.

The previous justification comes along a more heinous one, which is killing in the name of honour, especially in some rural areas in Upper Egypt. Killing in the name of honour happens when women and girls are killed simply because their families are suspicious about their behaviour with the absence of conclusive evidence. Women are then subjected to killing, slaughtering, or coerced to commit suicide. Usually, the killer, in this case, is a close relative, and it is often tolerated due to cultural and social norms. This crime also occurs in girls who their family members have raped. To cover up for their crime, the perpetrator kills her after promoting her misbehaviour as a justification for killing her whilst claiming that he did so to preserve the honour and reputation of the family. 

Statistics:

Despite the severity of the subject, it is difficult to obtain accurate governmental statistics on the number of women killed in Egypt. Nonetheless, according to a study by Tadween Foundation for Gender Studies, during the first quarter of 2023, 51 cases were monitored. This study was based on what was published in Egyptian newspapers, which is much lower than the actual reality, as not all femicides are classified or published as gender-based crimes. In this study, women killed were between the ages of 21-30, while 11.8% were between the ages of 11-20. Giza recorded the highest rate of femicides during the first quarter of 2023, with a rate of 31.3%, Cairo at 12%, and Sohag at 8%.

The scary thing is that by comparing this percentage with what was monitored during the first quarter of 2022, we find that the number of female victims increased by 25 cases, totalling 142 cases during 2023. Their husbands killed 58% of these women and 41% of other family members. This highlights a serious increment in the rates of femicide in Egypt.

Efforts by the Egyptian state to confront the phenomenon

Looking at Egyptian law and its position on femicide, especially the Penal Code, we find out that it contains some loopholes representing a direct threat to the rates of female murder in society, especially honour killings. For example, in adultery—which is supposed to be a moral crime in which men, like women, are punished under the Sharia law—the law does not apply if a woman kills her husband under the influence of stress. She, however, is punished with the death penalty or, at the very least, extreme labour. On the other hand, women are punished for adultery wherever it was committed. Moreover, suppose she is killed in the act of adultery. In that case, the husband is punished with the slightest penalty, which may suspend the sentence (based on Article 17 of the Penal Code), allowing the judge to use compassion with the accused. This helps in the spread of honour killing.  

The proposed solutions to confront the phenomenon of femicide:

In Egypt, killing a woman by her partner is often the culmination of long-standing violent behaviour. Therefore, it can easily be prevented through intensifying the efforts of both local and international institutions to assist and protect women who are victims of this type of violence. Hence, women need a coherent series of measures to ensure their protection and the prevention of such crimes. These measures are as follows: 

1- Taking specific measures to enable women to leave or be confrontational in abusive relationships: These measures must consider that women are often financially dependent on their intimate partner. Thus, they risk being deprived of their only source of income if they end an unhealthy relationship. Support services for women to help them leave abusive relationships are essential in protecting them. Some of these services are provided by the National Council for Women’s Rights, including shelters, protection orders, counselling and legal aid. 

2- Involving men in combating domestic violence and femicide: It is essential to stand up against femicide by developing cultural norms that reject toxic masculinity and gender norms to address the underlying discriminatory social norms that legitimize male power and gender-based violence.

3-  Confining the violent environment that incubates femicide: The risk of women being subjected to gender-based violence increases due to cultural norms and traditions. This necessitates that the government work on implementing the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security, which includes specific provisions on femicide, which falls under the prevention and protection sections.

 4- Developing an international unified and sustainable method for monitoring casualty counts: Unified data on femicide is still incomplete and insufficient, which hinders the process of tracking trends or understanding the scale of the problem. This necessitates establishing a unified measurement of gender-based violence in Egypt through recording the gender characteristics of victims and perpetrators. Thus, it can be of added value to the collected data. This allows for a more comprehensive and in-depth analysis of femicide in Egypt as well as a comparable system for collecting data across countries.

The bottom line is that the real response to femicide depends on implementing efficient policies. Subsequently, these policies would depend on high-quality data based on a clear and globally agreed-upon definition, units of measurement and indicators to protect potential victims of gender-based violence. Thus, after offering a cohesive number of alternatives, this paper highlights the importance of acquiring comprehensive and accurate statistics on femicide cases in Egypt. This is vital since the presence of such data, both locally and internationally, and its accessibility to all citizens helps understand the scale of the problem. Furthermore, measuring gender-based violence is the first and most crucial step towards protecting victims of violence and preventing femicide in particular.

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https://bjs.ojp.gov/content/pub/pdf/fvv.pdf

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https://www.bbc.com/news/explainers-56365412

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https://www.unodc.org/documents/justice-and-prison-reform/V1507883_A.pdf

Silent Struggle: 34% of Egyptian Women with Disabilities Face Violence from Husbands

Silent Struggle: 34% of Egyptian Women with Disabilities Face Violence from Husbands

Silent Struggle: 34% of Egyptian Women with Disabilities Face Violence from Husbands

By: Taha Al-Khudari

Violence against women is undoubtedly a violation of human rights, as recent global statistics show that one out of three women suffers from physical or sexual violence. They fall victim to many negative consequences that can impact entire families, communities, and nations. Disability is a risk factor for abuse, and when it comes to gender, women, and girls with disabilities are more vulnerable to violence for being women first and people with disabilities second. Women and girls with disabilities face many challenges and difficulties that hinder their empowerment, enhance their participation in society, and prevent them from effectively contributing to progress and developmental achievements. They are denied effective participation in society because they do not receive the same care and education as others.

Most violence against women happens at the hands of the husband regardless of social, economic, religious, and cultural differences. According to the World Health Organization, more than 38% of femicide cases worldwide result from the husband’s abusive behavior. If we shed light on Egypt, we find that 34% of women with disabilities are subjected to violence due to their disability by their husbands, while 61% of women with disabilities aged 18 years and over are exposed to some form of violence at the hands of their husbands—54% of this violence is considered psychological violence, 43% is regarded as physical violence, and 20% is considered sexual violence. Additionally, 14% of previously married women suffered from all four types of violence at the hands of their husbands.

The National Council for Women and the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics conducted a study entitled “Violence against Women with Disabilities” in February 2022, which was the first of its kind. The study was conducted on poor women aged 18 years and over who suffer from disabilities (movement, hearing, visual, or multiple) and benefit from the Karama program. However, women with psychological, intellectual, and developmental disabilities were excluded due to their difficulty communicating with them and the need for mediating intervention during interviews. The study is one of the first studies of its kind in the world and was conducted in partnership with UN Women, the United Nations Population Fund, and the United Nations Development Program, with the generous support of the United Nations Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Kingdom of Norway. It tackled the experiences of women with disabilities with gender-based violence (psychological or physical and sexual) committed by their husbands.

Nearly 60% of previously married women report their subjection to physical, psychological, or sexual violence at the hands of their husbands. While 33% of the women indicated that they had been subjected to such violence, these percentages are much higher than those reflected. Psychological violence is the most common type of marital violence, with about 54% of married women being subjected to one or more forms of psychological violence before marriage, and about 30% of women were recently subjected to it.

These results are close to the 2015 Gender-Based Violence Survey but reflect much higher rates. About 43% of the women who participated in the 2015 Gender-Based Violence Survey indicated that they had been subjected to psychological violence from their husbands. The study suggested that the majority of the sample of the Violence Against Women with Disabilities Survey 2020 was subjected to disability-based violence. 34% of previously married women reported being subjected to various types of disability-based violence by their husbands, while 22% had recently experienced such violence. Disability-based violence accounts for 65% compared to other forms of violence experienced by women. Whereas disability-based violence is the most common—which is evident from 17% of women with disabilities reporting that they have been humiliated, 13% have been refused assistance when assistance is needed, and 10% have experienced discrimination in general or discrimination in treatment between them and other family members in particular.

While the study continued that the woman’s age, marital status, and educational level impact the patterns of spousal violence, it showed that young people are more at risk of experiencing marital violence. Women under 35 were the most vulnerable to abuse from their husbands. Therefore, they are more likely to suffer from the effects of this experienced violence on childbearing and reproductive health. This pattern shows that younger men tend to be more violent than older men and that spousal violence begins earlier in many relationships. This finding may also reflect that younger women are more willing to disclose their subjection to violence than older women. The study concludes that a large percentage of women with multiple disabilities and women with severe disabilities have been exposed to acts of violence committed by their husbands.

This reflects how harsh some husbands can be when abusing women with disabilities. The study also revealed that younger women are more likely than older women to be subjected to controlling husband practices, as about 11% of ex-married women refused to give them the necessary money to cover household expenses, even if they were financially capable. At the same time, 10% indicated that their husbands don’t allow them to work. Although religious teachings, international conventions, and Egyptian law prohibit and criminalize severe forms of domestic violence, about 38% of women with disabilities agree with the justifications given for this type of violence, such as neglecting housework, neglecting their children, delay in preparing food, burning food, constant suspicions and questions, refusal of sexual relations, arguing, going out without permission and being financially irresponsible. The most accepting segment of this sample was women from Upper Egypt.

In comparison, about a third of the women confirmed that they feel afraid of their husbands most or all of the time. Concerning domestic violence or the surrounding environment, the results showed that 80% were subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM). It also showed that 18% were married before age 18, while 14% were forced to marry. About 10% were subjected to some form of sexual violence by family members or people in the surrounding environment, about 8% were subjected to sexual harassment, 3% were subjected to sexual assault and 15 were subjected to rape. Women’s subjection to disability-based violence comes in second place, as about 3 out of 10 women, or 28%, have been subjected to some form of violence. In contrast, 16% have been subjected to such violence.

Nearly 10% were subjected to physical violence, molestation, or rape by family members or people from their surrounding environment. Being humiliated or belittled due to their disability is the most common type of disability-based violence that women or girls experience at the hands of their families or the surrounding environment. The study emphasized that women victims of sexual violence frequently do not disclose to anyone that they have been subjected to such violence, or they only inform their families. The study also stated that violence against women and girls in public places limits women’s freedom of movement and negatively affects their education, employment, other life opportunities, and health and well-being. Moreover, gender-based violence defines women’s integration into social and public life. About 9% of women with moderate disabilities and 6% with severe disabilities (completely blind) experienced all forms of violence in public places. Most of them had passive reactions. 

To reduce and prevent these criminal acts, in 2014, Egypt passed the Anti-Sexual Harassment Law as an amendment to Article 306 (a) of the Egyptian Penal Code. The law states strict punishments if the offender has authority over the victim, several people committed the crime, or at least one carried a weapon. Penalties usually range between two to five years in prison, and fines range between 20,000 to 50,000 Egyptian pounds. 

It should be noted that there has not yet been issued a unified law to combat gender-based violence, in addition to the lack of implementation of Article 306 (a) as well as failure to form the Anti-Discrimination Commission stated in Article (53) of the 2014 Egyptian Constitution. Additionally, it is necessary to enact legislation in which the husband is punished if he fails to notify the wife, manipulates, or colludes with others of a second marriage according to the text of Article (11) bis of Law No. 25 of 1929 amended by Law No. 100 of 1985. This law states that the man has to acknowledge his marital status in the marriage certificate. If he is married, he must indicate in the certificate the identities of the married women.

There is also a need to remove the link between the text mentioned above of Article (306) of the Penal Code—related to harassment— and the idea of sexual benefit. In many cases, sexual harassment is based on humiliating and belittling women and imposing some kind of male control over them. Furthermore, it is necessary to consider revoking the text of Article (60) of the Penal Code, which allows the assaulting of women and girls under the name of the right to discipline (a concept borrowed from Islamic teachings).

On another note, it is necessary to issue a unified law to combat violence against women. From this standpoint, a draft law was submitted by Representative Nashwa El-Deeb, a member of the House of Representatives, and 60 other members. The draft law consists of 7 chapters that contain 50 legal articles. The first chapter includes definitions for all forms of gender-based violence, whether moral, physical, sexual, rape, sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, or domestic violence.

The Egyptian law guaranteed and supported many rights for people with disabilities. For instance, law No. 10 of 2018 provided many privileges and forms of care and protection to people with disabilities. Moreover, the House of Representatives law guarantees the allocation of 8 seats for people with disabilities within the party-list system according to the provisions of Article (244) of the constitution. In addition, law No. 11 of 2019 aims to promote, develop, and protect the rights of people with disabilities. Additionally, law No. 200 of 2020 calls for establishing a “Support Fund for People with Disabilities” headed by the Prime Minister and the fact that the rights of people with disabilities are stipulated in “Egypt’s Vision 2023.”

 

References: 

 

([1])  دراسة العنف ضد المرأة ذات الإعاقة، فبراير 2022م، الجزء الأول.ولأ

([1]) دراسة العنف ضد المرأة ذات الإعاقة، فبراير 2022م، الجزء الثاني.

([1]) دستور جمهورية مصر العربية وفقاً للتعديلات الدستورية التي أدخلت عليه في 23 أبريل 2019.

([1]) ﻣﺸﺮوع اﻟﻘﺎﻧﻮن اﻟﻤﻮﺣﺪ ﻟﻤﻜﺎﻓﺤﺔ اﻟﻌﻨﻒ ﺿﺪ اﻟﻤﺮأة

([1])  قانون العقوبات رقم 58 لسنة 1937 وتعديلاته، وآخرها تعديل بالقانون رقم 141 لسنة 2021 .

Medieval Arab Sex Work in Al-Tifashi’s Writings

Medieval Arab Sex Work in Al-Tifashi’s Writings

Medieval Arab Sex Work in Al-Tifashi’s Writings

By: Kareem ElQueer

 

“أدخلت امرأة من قحاب هذا العصر رجلا إلى بيتها، فبينما هي معه قرع زوجها الباب فأدخلته -عشيقها- خزانة… وخشيت أن يدخلها زوجها فاستدعت جارتها وطلبت ملحفة… وأقامتها في وجه الزوج، ثم أشارت إلى الرجل بالخروج، فخرج ومضى والزوج لم يشعر”

 

The above quote is from a story mentioned by Al-Tifashi in his book Nazhat Alalbab Fema La Yogad Fe Ketab. He is Ahmed bin Yusuf Al-Tifashi, who was born in a small village in the Almohad state (currently Algeria) in 1184 AD and died in 1253 AD in Cairo after moving during his life between the Arab countries from West to East. He was known for his contributions to mineralogy and wrote a book on it entitled Azhar Al Afkar Fe Jawaher Al-Ahjar. Additionally, he wrote books on sex and sociology, including but not limited to Resala Fema Yahtag Elayh Al Rejal Wa Al Nesaa Fe Istaamal Al Bah Mema Yador Wa Yanfaa. However, the book which we will tackle in this essay is Nazhat Alalbab Fema La Yogad Fe Ketab. in which he dealt with several social issues in a funny way through the recording of facts, monitoring and analyzing them and transmitting news and poems that he heard during his many trips in the Arab and Islamic countries. Therefore, this book is a rare social history of the public’s sexual life, especially in the second and thirteenth centuries (or the sixth and seventh Hijri centuries). It is referred to in English as “people’s history” during the eras of the Almohad state in the West along with the Ayyubids and the Abbasid state in the East.

In his book, Al-Tifashi records 22 different types of pimps [1] in that era, which suggests that sex work was not criminalized. It also indicates that such practice was normalized in the sense that he could mention it without feeling embarrassed or ashamed. Al-Tifashi mentions the job of each one of the pimps in detail along with how their wages were determined. For example:

1- Al Hawash who does not have a fee and whose duty is to deliver the worker to the customer’s house and carry her luggage. He depends on tipping (whatever the customer gives him).

2- Hawash Al Hawash is the person who gets one-sixth of the sex worker’s fare in exchange for organizing the night and guaranteeing that the fare is correct.

3- Al Maaras, a term used today in colloquial Egyptian dialect which indicates that its origin might stem from this era. The job of Al Maaras is to host the sex worker and the customer. His fee is a quarter or half of the fare.

4- Al Symsar (the broker) his task revolves around highlighting the virtues and the pros of the sex worker—whether they were truths or lies. He gets half of the fare.

5- Al-Qarnan, or what is described today as “Al-Qorani,” which refers to the pimp whose family works as sex workers. One of those Qarnan was mentioned in a poem and was called Ibn Hamdoun:

إن ابن حمدون ذو قرون… شمخن في رأسه، طوال

لو أنها في زمان موسى… أغنت عن الصرح ذي المحال

وكان فرعون قد تدلى… منها إلى الله بالحبال

6- Al Mosken, which lies on the top of the pimping hierarchy and earns the most money. He has a house full of sex workers both males and females. He targets merchants and charges them extensive amounts of money in exchange for his services.

 

Pimping, however, was not exclusive to men. Al-Tifashi mentions 10 types of female pimps. Most of the female pimps are elderly women which explains the Arab imagination’s assumption on evil old women who corrupt other women as it is easier for them to enter strangers’ houses without suspicion or worry. Other types of female pimps are Al Dalalah, Al Mashtah, Al Qabelah and Al Hegamah, they are the ones who try to seduce women. Lastly, the third type of female pimps is the servants and the “effeminate.” They are the ones who are not considered by Al-Tifashi to be men or women, meaning that they are eunuchs. They were also considered as a third gender in the Arab collective consciousness and as such were assumed to have feelings of jealousy and hatred towards those who were not deprived of their sexual pleasures.

 

Al-Tifashi differentiates between the work of each pimp from the ones who sit among the people mentioning the pros and virtues of the sex workers, the ones who integrate between the merchants and deceive them to the ones who take advantage of situations and quarrels. Moreover, he mentions the prevalence of sex work amongst both males and females, not just females, contrary to the common belief that assumes that homosexuality and queerness were not prevalent throughout Arab history. Furthermore, he mentions popular proverbs and Hadiths that tackled pimping in the Arab states at that time. They describe the collective consciousness of the public in his era, for example, the Aqwad men Zolmah, who was one of the greatest female pimps in Arab history. In his book, Al-Tifashi explains that pimping and sex work were part of the Arab culture, so they were included in Arab poetry and imaginative consciousness:

 

قوادة فارهة، كثيرة التوصل

لو شهدت صفين أو وقعة يوم الجمل

توصلت بالصلح بين ابن هند وعلي

 

As for the types of female pimps, or what was referred to in this era as “qahab,” there are seven types[2] that differ in their methods, among them are the following:

1- The Jealous One (Al Ghayrana): She is the one who claims that she has a husband who cheats on her and that she would like to cheat on him to take revenge, so the man follows her.

2- The Drunken (Al Sakrana): She walks on the streets drunk until she finds what she needs depending on how men would think that she is an easy target while she is in that state.

3- The Confused (Al-Hirana): She is the one who enters homes and claims that she is lost.

He also mentions two types of male pimps who had male sex workers, or in the language of the era, “al-alouq”: the first type is called the “mustashqoud” who has sex with the sex worker whom he is pimping. The second type is called the “sandal” who are young boys who work as pimps to other young boys. Arabs, similar to Romans and Greeks, were known for their love of young boys. Nevertheless, it was not the only manifestation of homosexuality. The love for young boys arose primarily in masculine societies as a kind of circumvention of masculinity through the removal of the masculine characteristic from young boys, and therefore having sex with young boys will not, for them, defy masculinity (however this phenomenon exceeds the purposes of this article).

Al-Tifashi determines that one of the characteristics of the male sex worker is shaving the hair off of both his feet and face. This is because the Arabs considered shaving facial hair a trick to appear younger. The masters were the pimps of the young slave boys. Those young boys didn’t have a fixed wage. It was rather set upon mutual agreement and consent between the two parties. Setting the wage was also dependent on several factors for instance: the content of the agreement and the status of its parties. For example, it ranged from a dirham and two dirhams as a minimum, to 10 dirhams or a dinar, and it may increase to 100 dirhams. However, it was more common to be between two and ten dirhams [3]. The wage was determined based on what was required from the sex worker, his beauty, the specified time and how rich and affluent the customer was. On the one hand, the more sexual services provided, the greater the wage. It is important to highlight that the wage was not only manifested in money, it could also be clothes, utensils, or other things of value. One of the anecdotes mentioned is that Abu Nawas used to pay the boy two dirhams and the eunuch one dirham, because the first is capable of more than the second. On the other hand, the growth of the beard reduced the given wage. Furthermore, sex work between two males was punishable through two forms: flagellation and execution. However, the death penalty was applied only if the relationship was between two men, not between a man and a boy.

Unfortunately, we do not have a specific estimate of the value of money in Al-Tifashi’s book because he did not specify a date and he lived in an economically turbulent time in which the dinar may have been equal to 40 dirhams[4]. Nonetheless, we can provide an estimate from the Cairo Geniza—which is a group of texts that were recorded by Jewish people who lived in Cairo during the ninth century AD [5]. These texts state that, during Al-Tifashi’s time, the daily wages for an unskilled sex worker such as a boy were two dirhams per day while the wage for a skilled worker was five dirhams per day. We have to take into account that the sex worker can earn such wage daily from any other job. It is also important to highlight that 10 dirhams are more than a reasonable wage as a minimum rate for those who engage in sex work professionally and do not just treat the profession as whims. Ten dirhams is enough where the cost of lunch for an individual is a dirham and a quarter while the cost of living for a family is at least two dinars per month (or 80 Dirhams). We can, then, deduce that two dirhams were the wage given to those who engage in non-professional sex work. We can also understand why young boys—who practiced sex work—got angry when given only one dirham, as this is not even enough for their day’s lunch. On the other hand, 10 dirhams (or more) is the most appropriate wage for professional sex work. If we wanted to compare it with the current currency, perhaps the dirham is almost equivalent to 50 pounds which equals the price of one meal today. The 5 dirhams are equivalent to 250 pounds—which is the daily wage of one worker in Egypt nowadays. Subsequently, the 10 dirhams are equivalent to 500 pounds—which is closer to the logical minimum wage of those who engage in sex work professionally. Lastly, 100 dirhams—which was explicitly said to be the wage of a young boy whose demand is high—represent the highest wage earned for a sex worker in that era.

 

According to Al-Tifashi’s anecdotes and stories which he collected from his travels, Al Qahab pranked people. Additionally, he provides a picture of a society in which consensual sex work took place in secrecy, but it was a secret that everyone knew about. For instance, some practiced sex work under that tree, others inside the mosque—and if someone found them, he would rebuke them and wait till they finished so he could pray. In another anecdote, a woman cheats on her husband and when he comes, she hides her lover in the closet. Moreover, he tells the stories of all segments of our society—the old and the young, the man and the woman, the homosexual and the heterosexual, the judge and the Sufi, the prince and the commoner—and how they are all involved in different forms of sexual relationships. Contrary to the common belief that such relationships are foreign to our societies, sex— and talking about it—was part of everyday lives. Although Al-Tifashi’s book was written with a mixture of humor and seriousness, as it was not a history book, its importance lies in its incorporation of the cultural history of the people who lived during that era in our society: their social history, what occupied their daily lives and how they behaved. We, then, find ourselves in front of a community where sex work was an integral part of the lives of the individuals of that community where sex work had its own known secret rules, culture and its famous people who everyone knows about their behaviors. These are all set as a large painting from a past that we did not live in.

 

 

[١] نزهة الألباب فيما لا يوجد في كتاب، الباب الثاني

[٢] المرجع نفسه، الباب الثالث والرابع

[٣] المرجع نفسه، الباب السادس والسابع والثامن

[٤]

https://doi.org/10.2307/3596341

[٥]

A Mediterranean Society, Volume I

The Jewish Communities of the Arab World as Portrayed in the Documents of the Cairo Geniza, Economic Foundations p95-110

Strategic Litigation Alert: Transgender Right to HealthStrategic Litigation Alert:

Strategic Litigation Alert: Transgender Right to HealthStrategic Litigation Alert:

 

 Strategic Litigation Alert: Transgender Right to Health

Cairo 52 Legal Research Institute lodged a strategic litigation petition with Alexandria’s Administrative Court on 17/07/2023 on the right to access health care for transgender individuals.

  • Summary of the Case:

The plaintiff is a transwoman who has demonstrated signs of gender dysphoria since childhood. In 2010, she started psychotherapy to find answers to her identity. She later received an official “gender identity disorder” diagnosis. She applied for official permission from the “sex correction committee” at the Medical Syndicate to undergo gender-affirming health care in 2014. Still, the committee has been negligible and has not examined her application. She has not received an official reply on her case to this day. Thus, we have lodged a petition against the Ministry of Health, the Medical Syndicate, and the Head of the Sex Correction Committee to demand that she is to be allowed access to gender-affirming health care urgently.

  • Summary of Arguments:

The plaintiff’s case is valid from an Islamic law perspective as she does not violate Islamic law. The Fiqh rule of necessities allows what is otherwise forbidden to be applicable here. The plaintiff has a medical condition constitutes a necessity, so her undergoing gender-affirming health care does not violate the Islamic ban on “unwarranted change of Allah’s creation,” as she has a medical condition that makes such change a necessity.

From civil law perspective, firstly, we argue that not granting the plaintiff’s approval constitutes a violation of the constitutional right to access health which is enshrined in Article 18 of the Egyptian constitution. Furthermore, denying medical services to our plaintiff constitutes another violation of international human rights treaties that Egypt is a treaty member of such in Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and Article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).

Secondly, transgender people’s only avenue to access health is through the sex correction committee, which has no clear criteria, mechanisms, bylaws, or regulations governing its work. The committee does not meet regularly, and its decisions are arbitrary and not legally binding, as it is a professional entity, not an executive one. Our plaintiff’s case is not unique, as the committee has systematically failed to provide timely decisions to transgender applicants, which causes a great deal of mental and emotional distress to transgender people who couldn’t access health care. Thus, not providing health care to transgender individuals violates the state’s constitutional obligations to provide health care to its citizens and violates the equality clauses in the constitution, as transgender people are systematically excluded from state health care services due to the committee’s lack of action.

Furthermore, the committee in its current form constitutes an illegality, as examining and providing health care to citizens should be within the executive branch’s authority represented in the Ministry of Health and not a professional entity such as the Medical Syndicate. The Ministry of Health has a legal obligation to correct this illegality by transferring the work and duties of the committee from the Medical Syndicate to the Ministry of Health. The Ministry of Health is obligated to establish a workable regulatory framework that would govern the committee’s work, allowing it to deliver decisions and health care to transgender people in a timely manner.

  • Requests:
  1. The appeal is accepted on the merits and the form/as a matter of form.
  1. Urgently issue a court order to allow our plaintiff to undergo gender-affirming health care.
  1. Correct the violations our plaintiff has suffered from by issuing a positive decision allowing her to continue her gender-affirming health care and access to legal gender recognition after finishing her surgeries.

 

For more information on the case, please contact legal.aid@cairo52.com

For media inquires, please contact media@cairo52.com