Egypt - Social development

Social programs focus on services including health care and family planning. Employers pay a percentage of their total wage bills to the government's social insurance organization to finance various benefits: 3% for workers' compensation and 15–17% for old age pensions and death and disability benefits. Employed persons are also eligible for sickness and maternity benefits. Employees pay 10–13% of their wages toward old age, disability, and survivor pensions. Unemployment legislation was first passed in 1959, unemployed workers receive 60% of their last monthly wage for up to 28 weeks.

Equality of the sexes is provided by law, but many aspects of law and traditional practice discriminate against women. Under Egyptian law, only males can transmit citizenship to their children or spouses. Women have won employment opportunities in a number of fields, but Egyptian feminists fear these gains will be halted by resurgent Islamic fundamentalism. Muslim female heirs receive half of the amount of a male heir, and Christian widows of Muslims retain no inheritance rights. The government continues its efforts to eradicate the widespread practice of female genital mutilation (FGM). Domestic abuse and violence is common. Because the concept of family integrity supersedes the well-being of the woman, few women seek redress from authorities.

Christian minorities in Egypt are often subject to discrimination and harassment. Extremists have attacked churches and have killed Christians. They sometimes face discrimination in obtaining higher education and employment. Muslim converts to Christianity have been subject to harassment by police and have been charged under the Penal Code.

Human rights abuses of torture, extrajudicial killings, and prolonged pretrial detentions are on the decline. However, the Emergency Law, in effect since 1981, continues to restrict basic rights. Arbitrary arrest and detention continue, and prison conditions remain poor. The government restricts freedom of press, assembly, religion, and expression. Islamic extremists also engaged in terrorist attacks, killing civilians. Human rights organizations do not have legal recognition, but they do operate openly.

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