Egypt's family planning policies tested by COVID-19

To feed his wife and three daughters, Mahmoud Imam worked two jobs in Cairo — as an office assistant in the morning and a waiter in the afternoon. Now, as the Egyptian government enforces measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Imam is being forced to stay home.

For Imam, 35, this may be the opportunity to realize his dream of having a son.

“I used to spend over 12 hours at work, now I spend 24 hours at home. I suddenly found that I have three young naughty girls,” Imam told Al-Monitor.

“Children are a blessing,” he said, “and I never had the opportunity to spend time with them. Now, my old dream of having a baby boy has come back.”

As Egypt’s partial lockdown enters its third week, most people are either working from home or on paid — or unpaid — leave. Many couples are spending more time together, raising alarm among Egyptians that quarantine could lead to either a population surge or an increase in divorce, two issues Egypt has tried to address in recent years.