MP Abla al-Hawari said on Sunday that she is drafting a new bill to be discussed soon in Parliament that will regulate couples’ engagements by limiting the engagement period to one year and imposing fines on couples who break off their engagements.
“I’m currently finishing off the articles of the law and will start collecting members’ signatures during the first sessions in Ramadan. The law is then going to be ready for discussion with the specialized committees,” Hawari, a member of the parliamentary Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee, said.
She added that placing a one-year ceiling on the engagement period is to protect women who may have an engagement broken off after “lengthy relationships.”
Egypt’s Family and Personal Status Law, along with their amendments, never included a clear definition of engagement and its legalization, Hawari said, adding that she will be taking that into account in the bill she is drafting by proposing a written document that entails all the details of the engagement.
The contract is then required to be signed off by both families, she said.
Hawari further explained that the law will set rules for the annulment of an engagement and the imposition of fines on the fiance/e who is responsible for breaking it off, if the break off caused the individual harm.
She added that the law would also include guidelines regarding the process of retrieving the shabka and gifts the couple give to one another during that period.
Shabka is a set of gold accessories a groom usually gives his bride before they tie the knot. Both families usually sit together to discuss the amount of money paid for the shabka and to determine how many pieces it should comprise.
“Many problems and conflicts arise between families for those familiar reasons because there is no clear legislation or law that people are asked to follow. With this law, women are protected and families would have a clear idea what to do in case the engagement is put off,” Hawari said.