Social Issues

The challenge of adopting in Egypt amid religious prohibition, social taboo

By Shady Roshdy and Isaac J. Martín

Cairo, Aug 27 (EFE).- Health problems meant Egyptian Rasha Mekki was unable to have a baby and Islamic rules meant she was unable to adopt until she discovered an alternative path to raising a child, known as kafala, a system that is offering hope, despite cultural taboo, to families looking to raise children.

“I grew up in Egypt convinced that adoption was prohibited by religion and without knowing that there was an alternative way to raise a child,” Mekki told Efe at the headquarters of her NGO Yala Kafala, which helps Egyptian families take in orphaned children.

She says there is still “ignorance and a lot of taboo” on the matter in Egyptian society, despite the fact that in June 2020 the government amended a law to allow children adopted under the kafala system take on one family name.


The new rules also allow single women, widows and divorcees over the age of 30 to provide a home for orphaned children, a significant change in an otherwise conservative society.

This is the case for Safaa Mohamed, a single woman of 42 who began the process of applying to take guardianship of a child after the law change. It was something her late mother had opposed.

“At the beginning my mother rejected the idea but the civil servants at the Ministry of Social Development tried to convince her,” she said.

“In the end, she gave me one year to try to find a husband and if I didn’t manage I could go ahead. My mother died of Covid-19 a year ago and just afterwards I finished the paperwork for the adoption.”


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