Egypt lawmaker proposes criminalising attempted suicide

Egypt lawmaker proposes criminalising attempted suicide
2 min read
16 January, 2022
The proposed law says that those who attempt suicide again will be fined between 10,000 and 50,000 Egyptian pounds ($640–3,200).
The bill was proposed by Egyptian MP Ahmed Mahana [Anadolu Agency/Getty-file photo]

Attempted suicides may be criminalised in Egypt under a bill proposed by a MP, as the attempted suicide of one young woman grips public debate.

The Egyptian Freedom Party's deputy chair Ahmed Mahana suggested punishing those who try to kill themselves by putting them in clinics for periods of between three months and three years, unless a judge decides otherwise.

The decision to release those being held over attempted suicides would be down to the committee responsible for supervising psychiatric facilities in Egypt, The New Arab's sister service, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, reported on Sunday.

The proposed law also says that those who attempt suicide again will be fined between 10,000 and 50,000 Egyptian pounds ($640–3,200).

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While many of Mahana's fellow MPs backed the move, citizens, activists and psychology academics have criticised the measure.

"The proposed law changes the philosophy of the penal code by making suicide a crime whose perpetrator must be punished without devoting attention towards addressing the factors that caused this behaviour," said Cairo University sociology professor Saeed Elmasry.

"The bill reinforces the social stigma of suicide, reinforces the deep feelings of injustice of those who attempt suicide, and puts society and the state in direct hostility."

In Egypt, the official number of suicides each year differs from civil society figures, but all point to the country having a serious issue to deal with.

The Arab Foundation for Human rights said there were 201 suicides in the first six months of last year.

The World Health Organization in 2016 said there were 3,799 people who attempted suicide in Egypt that year – the greatest number in the Arab world.

Cairo alleged there was a "conspiracy" concerning the suicide figures, saying a government agency reported 69 suicides in 2017.

"What's being said about an increase in suicide rates are rumours aimed at undermining social stability," the authorities claimed.