17 - 23 February 2000
Issue No. 469
|Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875|
Egypt Region International Economy Opinion Culture Features Focus Profile Travel Living Sports People Time Out Chronicles Cartoons Letters
Sir- I have been following the debate and finally the approval of the new Personal Status Law, which, in theory, grants the nation's women the right to divorce without spending a lifetime and all their savings in court. I think many Egyptian women have done the same. I am shocked, however, by the fact that this law remains unpopular amongst the vast majority of Egyptians. I speak for myself, but surely for many others too, when I argue that the reason why this new law has been resented and continues to be is that it was forced on the people. Who wants this law? Who formulated its articles? And last but not least, who gave these law-makers the right to deprive women of their legal right of getting alimony in return for obtaining a divorce from often abusive husbands? Can all women afford to forsake what could be their only means of subsistence? Many, many divorce cases were finalised when the husband was paid anyway. So, what's new in the new law? If anything, it emphasises the material aspect of wedlock, which should be based on mutual love, understanding and respect. If the government really wants to help women and issue a new law, it should be approved and discussed by an elected parliament that represents the people. Perhaps we would find that, as in other parts of the Arab world, it is desirable to make divorce the right of both men and women, with the same freedoms and the same restrictions applying to both.
Give them a break
Sir- I have nothing but praise for Mr Gamal Nkrumah's story (Al-Ahram Weekly, 10-16 February) -- even if it did contain a slight historical error. Tunisia was not, as Mr Nkrumah wrote, "the first African country to qualify for the World Cup in 1978". Zaire took part in 1974, Morocco was there in 1970 and how is it possible to leave out Egypt which, in the 1940s, became the first Arab and African country to participate in the world's most important soccer championship?
Slip-ups aside, Mr Nkrumah's assessment of the continent's footballers is absolutely correct: they are indeed constantly looking to play beyond their shores, in Europe in particular, because of the tremendous amounts of money involved. However, I do not necessarily believe this to be something bad. Clubs in Europe, and anywhere else for that matter, are in the business of winning. In high-calibre leagues as in Italy, Spain and England, for such objectives to be realised, the best players need to be found, paid and paid handsomely.
The rule of thumb is that when you give a player, in any sport, more money, he or she will, in consequence, play better. Overnight millionaires can sometimes make for a difficult personality (witness our very own nouveau riche business class). Lots of money can at times go to the head, but for the most part, African players have their feet firmly planted on the ground. For they know that if they don't produce, it's back to where they came from. For the majority of black African players, who come from rather meagre backgrounds, the prospect is hardly enticing.