Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Truth about Orfi in Egypt

What is orfi?

Orfi is a contract between a man and a woman stating that they are married. It is something that has only been used for a few decades, and over the course of this time, has been created by many people. However, with the introduction of marriage through a legal court system, and through the negative comments about orfi from the media, the orfi contract is being used less and less.

How does it work?

The orfi contract is created when a man and woman ask a lawyer to create an orfi marriage contract for them (though in some cases, the couple creates the contract by themselves in private). Two male witnesses are required for the process of the contract, and both parties will be asked to sign it. This process may take 10 minutes, and the couple will walk out of the lawyer's office with a marriage contract, however, all that has to happen to that contract is that it get destroyed or damaged, and the couple is no longer married. This is to say that the contract is just a piece of paper. It may not prove a marriage exists, and it is certainly not accepted as a form of marriage in other countries. It is not registered with the government, and therefore cannot be proven outside of showing the original document (which is, even then, not accepted). If the contract were to ever get destroyed, the “husband” would be allowed to take whatever he wanted from the woman, as well as to be able to “escape” if the woman were to ever become pregnant. The orfi contract provides all of the “luxuries” of being married, without any of the responsibilities.

Is orfi legal?

When researching this subject, I have come across such a wide range of answers. The majority of people believe that the orfi contract is a true legal way to marry in Egypt, but this is far from the truth.

The orfi contract was actually outlawed in Egypt many years ago, but due to the amount of people marrying through this system, the government was forced to create a new law stating that the orfi would be accepted as a legal form of marriage if the participants went through a specific legal case. This means that the orfi is only legal for those who appeal through the court system to have the orfi contract cased by a judge, which in turn would transform the orfi contract into an actual normal marriage, nullifying the orfi itself, which is to say that the marriage is only legal when the orfi no longer exists and the contract is changed to a normal legal marriage. So, the answer is no, orfi is in no way a legal form of marriage.

If it's not legal, why does it still practiced?

The frank truth? For sexual relations. In Islam, the religion of more than 90% of all Egyptians, pre-marital sex is forbidden. The orfi therefore provides a peace of mind for some, who believe that if they "marry" through the orfi contract, God will accept their marriage, and they will be free to have relations with their partner. Most of the orfi contracts are between Egyptian males and non-Egyptian females, and most of these cases are non-Egyptian females who travel to Egypt for vacation and "fall in love". It can go both ways, the Egyptian male may want to have relations with the foreign woman, as well as have access to her money and everything that she owns, and the foreign woman may want a free "permanent" vacation in a tropical paradise. Usually, these couples live in the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt in places like Sharm el Sheikh or Dahab, or in places on the African continent like Alexandria or Hurghada. However, not all orfi contracts are done with a foreigner. Some orfi contracts are created between two Egyptians, though almost all of these cases are between two young people, usually still in school.

The orfi contract is also shameful. Almost any Egyptian who is willing to follow through with an orfi contract is doing so without the support of their friends and family. No Egyptian male would ever allow his sister to marry through an orfi contract, because he would know that it was not legal, and it would put the female in a desperate position of having no security if the man decided to leave her. It would also mean that if she got pregnant while “married” through an orfi contract, and the man decided to leave her, he would not have to file for divorce, he would only need to burn the piece of paper. He would also not be responsible for the child, and the woman would likely never be able to marry again, because she would no longer be a virgin.

Are there any perks to the orfi contract?

No, there are no benefits to orfi. It is not an accepted form of marriage in other countries. It also creates many problems, because a countless number of people marry through the orfi contract knowing full well that they are secretly married to other people. If a man truly loves a woman, he should fight to marry legally, no matter what the process may cost or how long it may take. If you are an American and desiring to marry an Egyptian, and he asks you to marry him through any process other than the one described in my most recent post, be very cautious of his intentions.

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