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Egypt MP proposes criminalising attempted suicide as cases rise

Egypt's national flag in Cairo on 20 April 2019 [KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images]
Egypt's national flag in Cairo on 20 April 2019 [KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images]

An Egyptian MP has suggested criminalising suicide following increased coverage of people taking their own lives in the North African country.

Deputy Chair of the Freedom Party Ahmed Mahana has proposed putting people who have attempted suicide in clinics for between three months and three years as a punishment.

Under the proposed law, if they attempt to take their own life, they will be fined 10,000 to 50,000 Egyptian pounds, roughly $640 to $3,200.

At the beginning of this year a 17-year-old woman committed suicide after two men doctored images of her to make her look as though she was naked and then shared them online after she rejected the advances of one of them.

Basant Khaled committed suicide after not being able to bear the bullying her classmates and teachers subjected her to.

"I can't take any more of this," Basant wrote in a suicide note before swallowing a toxic pill.

Her case went viral with "Basant Khaled's right must be returned" trending in Arabic on Twitter with a show of support for her and other women who had been subjected to electronic blackmail, a crime which has grown in Egypt in the past several months.

READ: Egypt jails women's rights activist for highlighting harassment

In September last year a fourth-year dentist student committed suicide after becoming severely depressed because her family put pressure on her not to leave the house.

Egypt's security services tried to stop the news from spreading after a video of the student went viral, promising the sharp hand of the law for anyone who shared it.

The proposed law is the latest attempt by Egyptian authorities to carefully control the narrative of what is happening in Egypt.

Rights groups say the deteriorating economic and political climate are behind the increase in suicide rates.

Last year, the Arab Foundation for Human Rights said that between 30 and 35 people are committing suicide in Egypt per month.

In 2016 3,799 people attempted suicide, according to the World Health Organisation, more than any other country in the Arab world.

The recent attempted suicide of prominent political prisoners Mocha and Oxygen and the announcement that Alaa Abdelfattah was suicidal because of his ongoing pretrial detention has drawn attention to the fact that suicide attempts are widespread in prison due to the abhorrent conditions prisoners are kept in including the restrictions on family visitors.

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