Women judges barred from influential Egypt court


AFP/File  Egyptian women walk outside Egypt's State Council

in Cairo. Judges voted on Monday to bar women on the Council.


Mon Feb 15, 2:01 pm ET

CAIRO (AFP) Judges voted on Monday to bar women from ruling in an influential court which advises Egypt's government, official media reported, in a move slammed by human rights activists.

The Council of State's association voted by an overwhelming majority against appointing women as judges in the council, Egypt's MENA news agency said.

"Three-hundred and eighty judges took part in the general assembly and voted, with 334 rejecting the appointment of females to judicial posts and 42 agreeing, with four abstentions."

Egypt's Supreme Judicial Council, which has jurisdiction over criminal and civil courts, selected 31 women in 2007, who were later appointed by presidential decree.

But the decision angered conservatives who said women were not suited for the role.

Up until 2007, Egypt had only one woman serving as a judge, appointed by President Hosni Mubarak to the constitutional court.

Hossam Bahgat, an expert on human rights law and director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, criticised the judges' decision on Monday.

"I'm disappointed to see that there is a deep-seated bias prevalent among judges against women," he said.

Bahgat said the decision could technically be overruled by the Special Council, a supervisory body that oversees the Council of State.

"In theory, they can overturn today's vote. Today's vote is a disappointment. It shows opposition to the government's accumulative approach to ending discrimination against women in the judiciary."

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