Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood Decries UN Women's Rights Declaration

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, which continues to hold close ties with the country's presidency and parliament, recently spoke out against a United Nations declaration aiming to protect women's rights, saying the measures proposed in the declaration would contribute to the "disintegration of society."

"This declaration, if ratified, would lead to complete disintegration of society, and would certainly be the final step in the intellectual and cultural invasion of Muslim countries, eliminating the moral specificity that helps preserve cohesion of Islamic societies," the conservative Islamic political party said in a 10-point memorandum posted on its official website Thursday.

The Muslim Brotherhood went on to argue that the title of the declaration, "End Violence against Women," is misleading because it "aims to destroy the family."

"This is a misleading title," the Brotherhood commented on its official Facebook page. "The document includes articles that contradict the principles of Islam … and aim to destroy the family."

The declaration is currently being debated during the 57th session of the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women in New York City.

Although a final draft of the declaration was supposed to be agreed upon by Friday, reports indicate that those attending the commission, representing 190 governments, cannot reach an agreement on the declaration.

According to CBC News, conservative governments cannot agree on certain measures found in the declaration, which they argue goes against their culture's traditional and religious beliefs.

The declaration calls for a series of measures to be enacted by governments to ensure violence against women ends.

Some of these measures include putting an end to female genital mutilation, allowing women to travel and work without her husband's permission, and allowing women to control family spending.

The more contentious measures of the declaration include providing women with contraception without her husband's approval, as well as providing emergency abortion services where law permits.

Additionally, the declaration states that women may file police reports against both strangers and their husbands regarding sexual harassment and rape.

Countries including Russia, Iran, and the Vatican have all joined Egypt in contesting the declaration, which they argue attempts to integrate western culture with their conservative culture.

According to Reuters, Egypt reportedly proposed an amendment to the declaration which would allow countries to ignore certain measures if they violated cultural or religious values, but proponents of the declaration argue that this effectively makes the purpose of the declaration worthless.

Critics of Egypt argue that the country is using religious freedom as an excuse to not change its attitude toward women.

"We're asking them to stop using religion and culture to undermine negotiations and to justify violence against women," Lynn Darwish, a spokesperson for the Coalition for Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies, and an attendee of the conference, told The Guardian.

This is not the first time the U.N. Commission of the Status of Women has failed to reach an agreement.

Last year, the commission also failed to produce a declaration on the empowerment of women living in rural areas.

Additionally, the commission couldn't reach an agreement 10 years ago when the subject of ending violence against women was being discussed.

"Ten years later, we simply cannot allow disagreement or indecision to block progress for the world's women," Michelle Bachelet, a former president of Chile and head of U.N. Women, told those at the commission during its opening session last week, according to Reuters.

"The world is watching ... the violence needs to stop," she stressed.

As of Friday afternoon, the last day of the conference, the commission had not reached an agreement on the declaration decrying women's violence.