Could ‘procreation licenses’ halt Egypt’s burgeoning population?

A non-governmental organization based in Upper Egypt’s governorate of Minya recently drafted a suggested law in an attempt to control the unprecedented over population in the country. The law, in theory, if implemented, would restrict procreation by making it necessary for married couples to obtain a license from the government.

The Justice and Development for Human Rights organization (JDHR) aims through this draft law to put a halt on overpopulation in Egypt, which it argues is leading to inevitable problems such as an increase in unemployment and a lack of development.

The draft law stipulates that newlywed couples would be given a five-year license from the government that allows them to have only one child within the period, which could then be renewed for another five years, allowing the couple to have one more child, the head of JDHR Nady Atef told Egypt Independent on Tuesday.

“We aim through this draft law to put end to the overpopulation phenomenon in Egypt after the population reached 104.2 million people…the license is given to all the newly married couples and is up for renewal, with violators being subjected to punitive measures from the state,” he said.

Nady explained that punitive measures that would be taken if the law is violated include the couple being deprived of state-subsidized services including food and education.

“Violators may also face the possibility of paying fines to the government — and they would be deprived from obtaining the ‘procreation license’ for at least the following five years,” he added.

Nady said that he believes that if the draft law went ahead, the licenses would be issued by an authority that stems from the health ministry which would need to be created, adding that fines would be imposed on violators through the Egyptian Family Court.

Nady explained that his organization will provide the draft law to parliamentarians next week for the sake of provoking discussion.

“We will put the detailed draft law into the hands of Egyptian lawmakers inside the parliament with the aim that they will start discussing it next week to pave the way for real solutions to the overpopulation phenomenon,” he concluded.

However, others disagreed that “procreation licenses” need to be issue in Egypt. Professor of marital relations and behavioral science, Mysoon El Fayoumi, said that “procreation licenses” are not a natural fit in Egyptian society because of religious beliefs that consider procreation as a duty.

El-Fayoumy argues that Egypt is not suffering from an overpopulation issue in the way it is being portrayed in the media and from governmental sources and instead suggests that the country is facing a crisis in planning, or what she calls the “Art of Planning.”

“Egyptians are only living on 7% of Egypt’s total arena. We are leaving vast areas of the country empty so the issue here is the absence of proper planning by government officials and not the procreation process,” El Fayoumy said.

El-Fayoumy outlined that previous family planning campaigns by the state and suggested ones such as the “procreation license” ask people to not have more children but fail to explain to people why population control is needed in the first place.

“People should be aware of the harms of procreation with the current economic conditions but the state should intensify the process of the development and exploitation of the vast empty areas in Egypt — with these methods Egypt would not suffer from such a problem,” she said.

El-Fayoumy called on the government to take advantage of all the empty areas of Egypt and argued that if Egypt manages the increasing population properly, the country will become a modern state.

In a conference on Tuesday titled “Egypt…Only two kids,” Health Minister Emad El-Din stated that the ministry is trying to implement a governmental scheme that limits Egyptian families to only two children.

Emad El-Din also said that the government is targeting the wider use of contraceptives but also noted that improving education and health services for women will also help in putting an end to chronic overpopulation in Egypt.



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