Female Judges in Egypt
According to the AP, Egypt's judiciary chief has recently named the country's first female judges. 31 women have been appointed positions as either judge or chief judge in Egypt's courts.
From the article:
The move is expected to give a boost to President Hosni Mubarak's political and social reforms that have been widely criticized as too restricted. But others said the announcement still falls short of providing women equal opportunities.
The decree said the women, who previously were state prosecutors, passed a special test before being named to their new posts.
Women's rights advocates have been pushing for female judges for decades, but the government had refused, fearing angry reaction from conservative Muslims opposed to a move they consider un-Islamic.
In 2003, Mubarak named a female lawyer, Tahany el-Gebaly, as a judge in the nation's constitutional tribunal, a post which does not include overseeing civil or criminal court cases. It was not immediately clear what courts the 31 women would preside over.
There is, obviously, debate in Egypt about whether this is a good development. Some Islamics have decried the move, citing such Islamic tenets as one that provides "that two women are equal to one man if they are called as witnesses in a court" -- thus, one woman should not be able to be a judge because she cannot even be a sole witness -- and one that prohibits women from spending time alone with men. Others, however, have argued that the decree appointing the women does not go far enough and is merely cosmetic because only selected women who had already worked for the government were chosen, leaving out defense lawyers and other civil servants.
Jurist (March 14, 2007).
How Appealing (March 14, 2007).