On social media, you occasionally read testimonies from women who were prevented from staying in hotels in Egypt because they were alone. They are called “security instructions”. But the matter turned into a controversy recently, prompting the Ministry of the Interior to issue a clarification statement.
Is it possible for the management of a hotel to refuse to reserve a room for you because you are a woman alone, neither a husband nor a man from your family with you? The answer may seem no closer. But this may actually happen in Egypt, although there is no law that prevents women from staying in a hotel on their own.
The Egyptian Ministry of Interior published a statement on Tuesday, stressing that “there are no instructions or decisions for hotels and tourist facilities not to allow Egyptian women or citizens of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries who are under the age of 40 to reside in them without a “mahram”.
Some of those who interacted with the ministry’s statement saw it as insufficient if it was not accompanied by measures that deter hotels from refusing to accommodate women alone.
The statement of the Ministry of Interior was issued in response to a lawsuit filed by Egyptian lawyers Hani Sameh and Salah Bakhit before the administrative court with the aim of “cancelling the decision, security instructions and alerts issued by the Ministry of Interior for hotels, “pensions” and all related facilities, especially one and three star hotels, not to allow Egyptian women Or female citizens of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries under the age of 40, who register on their own and reside without their husbands or male relatives.”
The two lawyers submitted the invitation based on articles of the constitution and some laws, most notably the articles that stipulate equality and non-discrimination between men and women, and article 62 that guarantees freedom of movement and residence without discrimination.
On Saturday, the Administrative Court adjourned the hearing of the call to 17July /July 2021.
The center said at the time that this ban is considered “discrimination against women, an insult to all young women and women, and an unacceptable practice of guardianship. It also constitutes a restriction on women’s freedom of movement and work, and is contrary to the constitution and the law… and to all state policies in empowering women.”
Testimonies of women on social media
On social media, especially in Egypt, you come across from time to time testimonies of women who were prevented from staying in hotels because they were alone.
But the interaction with the matter increased after the lawsuit was filed, and the matter turned into a discussion about the legality of these decisions and their social foundations, in addition to their impact on many aspects of women’s lives in Egypt.
Egyptian women shared their experiences in this regard, highlighting a great discrepancy between the experiences.
Some of the women did not face any obstacles and stayed in hotels in Egypt by themselves.
Some of them said that they are sometimes banned and sometimes allowed.
But many were prevented from staying in hotels on their own, until some ended up sleeping in the streets or public parks, according to their testimonies.
Many agreed that the ban is often in low- or mid-level hotels.
Managers of some hotels tell women who refuse to stay that they have “verbal instructions” from the relevant security and tourism authorities.
While hotels put plaques at the reception saying that the hotel does not allow a woman to stay alone.
Why are women prevented from staying in hotels alone?
This question raised by Misriat is not originally asking for an answer, but rather its goal is to analyze and explain the reason for this type of decisions.
What do those who prevent women from living alone fear?
Some of those who support the decision to prevent women from staying alone in hotels say that this decision prevents the use of hotels for “immoral acts”.
Others say that a woman is not supposed to spend the night away from her family in the first place.
In this, women’s rights advocates say the decision is an insult to women and an imposition of patriarchal guardianship over them.
Hence, women seek to drop these regulations that hinder the progress of women in Egypt towards full equality and parity.
On the individual level, those who reject this type of guardianship of women list its effects on many aspects of women’s lives.
The inability of women to stay in a hotel on their own deprives them of many opportunities to advance in the fields of study or work.
Some women need an escape from domestic violence, so they are prevented from staying in a hotel on their own and deprived of the possibility of protecting themselves from violence.
This is in addition to the feeling of discrimination and inferiority left by this ban on women in the eyes of their society and the authorities in their country, which have announced their efforts to empower women and achieve equality between them and men.
For many women, it is an important part of the battle for their rights.