- Title: A match made by a woman: Egypt's marriage officiant challenges norms
- Date: 13th August 2019
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) EGYPTIAN FEMALE MARRIAGE OFFICIANT, AMAL SOLAIMAN, SAYING: "I am Amal Solaiman Arfy Selim, holder of a master's degree in law." SOLAIMAN KISSING SON SOLAIMAN WITH FAMILY AT HOME (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) EGYPTIAN FEMALE MARRIAGE OFFICIANT, AMAL SOLAIMAN, SAYING: "The main obstacles I faced was that this was completely new for a woman and facing society was the most (difficult thing). There were people who strongly rejected it out of ignorance. Sometimes, it comforted me when someone knowledgeable discussed the matter with me, but when people discussed this with me out of ignorance, it was the most difficult thing to convince someone saying that this is haram (violates religious principles). When I ask them about their evidence, I figure out that they know nothing about religion. Why do you say it is haram then?" SOLAIMAN TALKING WITH FAMILY MEMBERS (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) EGYPTIAN FEMALE MARRIAGE OFFICIANT, AMAL SOLAIMAN, SAYING: "Yes sometimes I faced some situations when the girl (bride) was hesitant or did not agree to get married. The family members cannot prevent me from asking her. They can't use the same excuses to send two witnesses to ask the bride about her approval of the marriage. This is an advantage of a female marriage officiant. But at the end of the day, it isn't a race against men. All I'm saying is that whoever is more qualified for a position should get it." SOLAIMAN TALKING TO SON SOLAIMAN'S HUSBAND, TAHA EL-GHAMERY, TALKING (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) SOLAIMAN'S HUSBAND, TAHA EL-GHAMERY, SAYING: "At first, we were met with strong rejection from some extremist religious clerics. But most religious clerics, were on the same page as us. Some of them changed their minds when they knew the nature of the job of Ma'azoun (marriage officiant in Arabic) because most of them considered it a religious job. When social dialogue took place through the media, they started to understand the nature of the job. A very big percentage of clerics started to change their views." VARIOUS OF SOLAIMAN FIXING HEADSCARF IN FRONT OF MIRROR SOLAIMAN ENTERING OFFICE SIGN ABOVE OFFICE DETAILING SOLAIMAN'S WORKING HOURS SOLAIMAN AT OFFICE WITH CLIENTS (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) SOLAIMAN'S CLIENT, ATEF ABDEL MOTELEB, SAYING: "I believe that she is better than a male (marriage officiant). Her work is much better than a man. She welcomes people with grace, deals with them very well, and respects people very much. She does everything that we want." VARIOUS OF FAMILY HEADING TO SOLAIMAN'S OFFICE
- Embargoed: 27th August 2019 12:57
- Keywords: Female marriage officiant in Egypt Women in Egypt Egyptian women Women rights in Egypt
- Location: ZAGAZIG, EGYPT
- City: ZAGAZIG, EGYPT
- Country: Egypt
- Topics: Religion/Belief,Society/Social Issues
- Reuters ID: LVA003AS1X5QT
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: A couple tying the knot in a small Egyptian village will tell the story of their marriage ceremony being run by a woman, an unconventional practice in a country where the job of a marriage officiant is typically reserved for men.
But in the village of Qanayat in the northern city of Zagazig, Amal Solaiman, 43, is a licensed notary who officiated nearly 3,000 marriages since receiving her licence.
It all started when the uncle of Solaiman's husband, who was the village's marriage officiant, passed away in 2007.
At the time, Solaiman just had just finished her master's degree in law and was hunting for a job.
When her husband suggested she applies for his uncle's position, she thought the idea was far-fetched.
It took her a whole year competing against 11 male applicants for the job, and was happy that the law, preferring candidates with the highest academic degrees for the job, was properly applied. But it was not an easy task.
"This was completely new for a woman, facing society was the most (difficult thing). There were people who strongly rejected it out of ignorance," she said.
An article published in a state-run newspaper about her at the time was a double-edged sword. While it triggered heavy criticism, it also publicised her services within the community.
When she finally opened her office in 2008, customers gradually came in, and she is now even considered better than her male counterparts.
Being a woman helped Solaiman in situations when she sensed the bride was forced into the marriage.
In Egypt, women need only two witnesses to verify on her behalf her acceptance of the union. In some cases, many male officiants will take the word of the two witnesses, also men, without asking the bride to be.
She had to cancel some marriages and postpone others, empowering women to decide their own fate. "This is an advantage of a female marriage officiant," she said.
"But at the end of the day, it isn't a race against men. All I'm saying is that whoever is more qualified for a position should get it," Soliman continued.
(Production: Sayed Sheasha, Mai Shams El-Din)
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