Family and Kinship

From: The Encyclopedia of Canada's Peoples/Egyptians/Fouad Assaad

Changes have occurred within the Egyptian family in this country, in particular with regard to its composition, its authority structure, the role of women and youth, financial and household responsibilities, and attitudes towards children, sexuality, religion, and politics. In Egypt, financial responsibilities were traditionally the husband’s domain, while the household and the care of children were the wife’s, whether or not she was employed outside the home. In Canada, however, many husbands have taken on a larger share of household duties, including childcare. Changes have also occurred in attitudes towards children, which can be described as generally more tolerant in Canada than they are in the homeland. This difference is more apparent with regard to boys than to girls.

Although most Egyptians prefer that their children marry members of their own community, believing that such unions will be more successful, they generally do not oppose intermarriage with members of other ethnic groups. A survey of Egyptian immigrants in Quebec in 1989 showed that 29 percent of the respondents’ marriages were with non-Egyptian partners. The traditional attitudes towards sexual relations have also changed. Less importance is apparently placed on the virginity of women at marriage than in traditional Egyptian culture. In the same study, 42 percent of respondents disagreed that a woman should be a virgin at marriage, while 31 percent agreed and 31 percent did not express an opinion. There was a wide range of views regarding premarital sex: 31 percent said that they would allow their daughter to spend the night in the house of her boyfriend, 48 percent indicated that they would not, and 18 percent had no opinion. Public displays of affection, however, are still frowned upon by the majority of Egyptian Canadians, with 60 percent of respondents believing that it was improper to kiss in public.