Monthly Archives: May 2015

Who Will Throw the First Stone at Zeina?

Zeina_keppcalm

— By: Alexandra Kinias —

After two and a half years fighting in courts, Zeina vs Ahmed Ezz’s paternity saga finally ended with a victorious milestone for Egyptian women. The verdict would allow the actress to issue birth certificates for her twins in spite of actor Ahmed Ezz’s, the presumptive father, denial of his paternity. Furthermore, in an unprecedented ruling that would also benefit thousands of women who are fighting similar cases, the judge shifted the responsibility to the presumptive fathers to contest their paternity. So for Zeina’s case, and until proven otherwise by Ezz, the twins will carry his name. This verdict came as a slap in the face of the actor who wouldn’t comply with a previous court order to undergo a DNA test. Had he taken the test, this feud would have been concluded months earlier.

It is quite reprehensible how a father would refuse to issue a birth certificate for his offspring and vindictively fight against it, knowing fully of the consequences. A child without a birth certificate would not only be stigmatized for life as illegitimate, a shameful label in an unforgiving conservative society, but without it, this child can’t be enrolled in schools either.

To avoid social humiliation as her pregnancy advanced and Ezz was nowhere to be reached, Zeina fled to America to give birth to the twins. On their American birth certificates, Ezz was added as the father. The paternity battle started upon her return to Egypt. It is crucial to prove the status of the twins on Egyptian documents.

Zeina’s fame brought attention to her case and helped resolving it. But there are thousands of other underprivileged women who can’t afford hiring lawyers for such cases that can drag on for years in courts. Granting the mothers the right to issue birth certificates for their children, without consent of the presumptive fathers, was a huge victory for these women. Also the judge’s decision to shift the pressure of refuting the paternity to men was a smart move to bring closure to such cases.

Children born out of wedlock should not pay for the sins of their parents. Deprived from their identity, they will be forever haunted by the ghosts of their upbringing. The lucky ones are those whom their mothers terminated their lives before it had started, to save them the anguish and torment of abandonment in an orphanage or in the street. It is heart wrenching to read horrific stories of infants found in dumpsters stabbed to death or with their limbs eaten by stray animals. A high percentage of abandoned children become homeless. Left in the streets, it is tragic to see them competing with stray dogs and cats for scraps of food salvaged from the garbage, or for a spot to spend the night. You find them sleeping under parked cars, in construction sites or on a sidewalk with nothing to cover their frail bodies on cold nights but a piece of cardboard. They become invisible to the masses that carry on with their daily lives as if these helpless children are just stray animals they cross path with.

The shocking news of such discoveries briefly awakens the guilt feelings of people who would shift the blame entirely on the mothers, forgetting that they are also victims of an ultraconservative and heartless society. But other than condemning the mothers, not much action is taken to save these kids. As the hands are chained by the laws that govern and the minds are cluttered with cultural taboos, these helpless children will go on with their predestined lives that are doomed with shame and misery.

It is outrageous to discover that the voices of those who are fighting against the rights of these unfortunate children are coming from the comfort of expensive homes and mansions. Zeina was an unexpected surprise as she fought back relentlessly a battle that every mother with courage should fight. Ezz and his lawyers are appealing the court’s decision on the basis that no Orfi marriage contract is available, and thus slander the mother, discredit her claim and refute the paternity. The truth, however, will inevitably prevail. So why Ezz wouldn’t save us all the drama that he seems to play better in real life than in movies and take a DNA test? If he is confident of his stance, he would prove her wrong, close this chapter in his life and move on. If not, then he should stand up like a man and take responsibility for his action.

Women with courage and a cause are pivotal in changing outcomes, and Zeina proved to acquire both. Admire her courage and stance or despise her, her action will pave the road for more helpless women to follow her path. And those who are being critical of her, one can’t help but remind them that, “If any of you have never sinned, then go ahead and throw the first stone at her!”

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Filed under Editorial, Women Rights in Egypt