In the News: Paternity Lawsuits and DNA Testing in Egypt

Last month, Equal Times (a Brussels-based news site) published an article discussing the increase in paternity lawsuits and calls for DNA testing in Egypt. The Egyptian government estimates there are 75,000 paternity cases that are slowly making their way through the family court system. According to the article, the judges in these paternity cases have to base their rulings on documents/correspondence and witnesses in order to establish that there was a relationship, as the men are not legally required to take DNA tests.

One of the challenges with Egypt’s personal status law according to the article is the assumption—based on historical traditions and norms—that children should be born in wedlock: “The law on filiation is based on an Islamic principle according to which a child (that is recognised) is ‘the fruit of marriage.’” As a result, children whose fathers do not recognize them can be harmed legally and financially and can suffer social stigma.

The article echoes some of the concerns raised by Prof. Zaynab El Bernoussi in her commentary on DNA testing in Morocco, which was published by SHARIAsource in August. El Bernoussi analyzed a recent family court case in Morocco which allowed for DNA tests to be admitted into evidence. As explained by El Bernoussi, the judge in that case acknowledged that Morocco’s personal status code “rejects paternity determinations for children conceived out of wedlock in favor of the legal canon stating ‘the child belongs to the marriage bed,’ that is, that paternity goes only to children born from a legal union recognized in Islamic law.” However, the judge ruled that “paternity”—the child’s legal right to receive child support and inherit from the father—was a separate issue from “lineage”—the legitimacy of the relationship which would allow the child to take the father’s name. El Bernoussi described this ruling (which was intended to comply with Islamic law, the Moroccan Constitution, and international conventions on the rights of the child) as a victory for women and children that, despite being overturned on appeal, should serve as a model for future court cases.

Read the full commentary here.