Cruelly marginalised from the political scene, women have been in recent months dismissed as ‘a sheer evil’, or, in most cases, their existence has been reduced to the lower part of their bodies.
As Egypt is going Wednesday to elect its first president since Mubarak's overthrow in February last year, it is ominous that there is not a single woman among the 13 candidates competing for the nation's top job.
The three women, who had initially announced their intention to run for president, failed to secure the minimum endorsements from voters to be allowed into the race.
Strangely, some lawmakers in the Islamist-dominated Parliament have made the elimination of the limited gains earned by women before the anti-Mubarak revolt their top priority.
One lawmaker has proposed a bill to reduce the minimum marriage age for girls to 14 years from 18. Such a bill, if passed, would mean Egypt having child wives. At the same time, it wouldn’t make marriage any easier for millions of young people.
The soaring costs of marriage and runaway unemployment rates have harshly undermined the marriage plans of many youths.
The key to encouraging marriage in Egypt, where around 40 per cent of the people are believed to be living below the poverty line, is to create new jobs and urge parents not to be too demanding when it comes to wedding plans.
Another anti-women move in Parliament is a bid to revoke the khula law, which gives women the right to divorce their spouses in return for waving their financial entitlements. The crusaders against this law claim it violates the Sharia (Islamic Law), although the nation's top Muslim clergymen said it doesn't.
Other opponents of this law want to get it cancelled because it was passed by Mubarak's Parliament, allegedly at the behest of his powerful wife.
This is a myopic view. The criterion should be whether this law is good or not for women stuck for years in a miserable marriage.
In addition, the anti-khula MPs should be aware that more than a decade after this law went into effect, divorce rates are high not because of it, but because of an economic crisis that has been taking a terrible toll on many families.
More than 30 per cent of women in Egypt are believed to be the sole breadwinners for their families after their spouses have divorced them, died or lost their jobs due to ill-planned and dubious privatisation.
The humiliation of women has recently taken a physical dimension. Despite a ban imposed on female circumcision, some medical practitioners, reportedly from the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, have been touring provinces of Upper Egypt, allegedly performing the procedure on young girls.
Islamists, who control more than two-thirds of Parliament, have denied the reports. However, they haven’t denied the fact that one of their lawmakers has suggested a bill overturning the ban on the practice, also known as female genital mutilation (FGM). For sure, this is not the best way to improve Egyptian women's status.
The writer is a prominent Egyptian columnist. The article was published in The Egyptian Gazette on May 21, 2012