Following are excerpts from a TV show featuring Muhammad Saad Al-Azhari, a member of the Egyptian Constituent Assembly, which was broadcast on Al-Nas TV on September 24, 2012.
Muhammad Saad Al-Azhari: We were discussing a clause [proposed for the constitution] prohibiting forced labor and sex trafficking in women and children. I and some other members objected to this clause. We said that "trafficking in women" in the UN covenants refers to child marriage.
There were continuous efforts to make me specify an age at which girls may marry. They asked: When? At the age of 9, 10, 11? I said to them: Even in Egypt, girls begin to menstruate only at the age 11-13. In most cases, it doesn’t happen at the age of nine. There is however, a cultural and social heritage in this country. In the cities, it is very difficult to marry before the age of 18, but in the rural areas – in Siwa, in the Sinai, and among the Nubians – things are different. We should bear in mind the climate and the economic and social heritage. The important thing is that the girl is ready and can tolerate marriage.
Then they wanted to add an article protecting women from violence. With such a clause, you wouldn't be allowed to say anything to her, let alone touch her. And there were things worse still...
TV Host Sheikh Khaled Abdallah: The people of Egypt should know what those secularists are trying to do. The man is a member of the Constituent Assembly. It's not me saying this. "Child protection" means that if your child goes astray, you cannot discipline him, beat him, or even say a word to him, or else he might call 911 like they do in America. Your wife will act insolently, and you won't be able to say a word to her. Forget about your manhood. If you dare to say anything to her, she will call the police on you. They want to exclude the Islamists from formulating the constitution, and do things that contradict the shari'a and the teachings of our Prophet. Go ahead.
Muhammad Saad Al-Azhari: If your wife claims that you were intimate with her without her consent, it will be considered rape according to the law. This is part of women's protection from violence. If you have full sexual relations with your wife against her will, she will be able to file a complaint against you. That's where things are headed.