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Learning English - Words in the News
27 April, 2005 - Published 11:06 GMT
Paternity dispute in Egypt
A DNA strand
DNA tests can prove paternity

In Egypt, a young mother is taking a famous religious TV talk show host to court in a paternity suit. The high profile case has been discussed all over the country, as it is quite unusual for Egyptian women to act in this way. This report from Magdi Abdelhadi:

Listen to the story

The case has caused a stir in Egypt for months. Instead of doing what many young Egyptian women in her situation do, that is, have an abortion, Hind Al-Hinnawi, an upper middle class professional, had the baby, went public and took the alleged father to court.

The man, Ahmad Al-Fishawi, hosts a television programme about religion for young people. He's also the son of a film star and a famous actress.

The young mother says that she married Mr Al-Fishawi according to what is known in Islam as a Urfi marriage, an unregistered marriage contract. After initially denying he had anything to do with the mother, Mr Al-Fishawi relented, but refused to accept that he was the father of the baby girl, sparking an outcry among Egypt's feminists and liberals.

The mother's unconventional behaviour also raised many conservative eyebrows. In February, a court ruled that Mr Al-Fishawi should undergo a DNA test. The ruling was considered a landmark and regarded as a huge victory for the mother and her supporters. But equally significant is the debate about sexuality, freedom and responsibility that the case has generated.

The family's unstinting support of their daughter is also remarkable, in a society where many parents would have put the blame on the girl, and some - particularly in Egypt's rural communities - might even have killed her.

Magdi Abdelhadi

Listen to the words

a paternity suit
a legal case which decides whether or not a man is the father of a child; paternity - fatherhood

high profile
reported in the media, involving famous people

caused a stir
to cause a stir - to create public attention

have an abortion
to have an abortion - to end an unwanted pregnancy

had anything to do with
to have to do with (someone or something) - to be connected to it or them

to relent - to become less severe. Here, to admit that what he'd said was too harsh

sparking an outcry
to spark an outcry - to make lots of people angry or upset

raised many conservative eyebrows
shocked many traditional people; to raise an eyebrow - to shock or surprise people, or to be shocked or surprised; conservative - traditional;

a DNA test
a test to check whether someone shares the same genetic information as someone else (in this case, a child), proving whether they are related or not

unstinting support
continuing and unchanging help and acceptance

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