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Challenging Domestic Violence in Tunisia


Yes, it’s true that laws too often in some majority Muslim nations restrict and discriminate against the rights of women, as do certain societal and cultural norms. At the forefront of upending such discriminatory practices are Muslim women politicians from the Ennahda party.

via. The Guardian

Almost half of women aged 18-64 – 47.6% – had experienced some form of violence, according to a 2010 survey. There is little evidence that the situation has improved since the uprising that ended the dictatorship of Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and led to a democratically elected government.

However, this month Tunisia’s parliament is debating a bill to strengthen legislation on violence against women. Championed by Ennahdha, a conservative reformist party with Islamic roots and a clutch of dynamic female MPs and officials, the bill is expected to be passed by the end of 2016.

The proposed law, which would be incorporated into other legislation and government policies, would introduce sweeping definitions of gender-based violence, covering psychological and economic harm in both the public and domestic spheres. Marital rape would be outlawed and there would be an end to impunity for rapists if their victims are under 20 and they subsequently marry them. Penalties for sexual harassment at work would be increased and police officers and hospital staff trained in gender issues.

The scope of the bill may challenge western stereotypes of Islam, but Mehrezia Labidi, an Ennahdha MP and chair of the parliamentary women’s committee, said: “We see no contradiction between Islam and protecting women’s rights. We have a progressive reading of Islam.”

Sayida Ounissi, 29, another Ennahdha MP and secretary of state for entrepreneurship in the coalition government led by the secular Nidaa Tounes party, said: “It’s good to have conservatives like us saying violence against women is not acceptable. Some conservatives might argue that the state should not interfere in the private space [of the family], but when a person’s physical integrity is harmed, the state needs to step in.”

Tunisia may have a better record on women’s rights than other countries in the region, “but we compare ourselves to international standards”, she added.

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  • Khizer

    Sorry if I was being way too general regarding femenists, I should have specified that the ‘secular shrieking pessimistic harpies’ I am referring to are extreme femenists who despise ALL men,and women who do not follow their lifestyle choices (“your trying to raise a family at home and you dress modestly, YOU FILTHY DOORMAT!!!”). These same women also insult and hate ANYONE who disagrees or criticises their lifestyle choices (emphasis on ‘disagree’ and ‘criticise’, to them these words mean ‘YOU SHOULD NOT LIVE LIKE THIS’
    when it actually doesn’t). They also get easily offended and are obnoxiously loud. There are however GENUINE femenists who wish to improve women’s lives and secure them equal rights (the extreme femenists on the other hand think women are ZA MASTA RACE and men are filth). The genuine femenists are actually working their asses of in promoting women’s rights in significant issues (instead of shrieking when a female video game character is in a ‘sexy’ pose, which many internet femenists usually do). Sorry I was being too general with my statements.

  • (((Reynardine)))

    ‘Scuse. Secular shrieking harpy here. I have shouldered a man’s burden while being told to stay in a woman’s place, and now I’m nasty. But only one thing could make me pessimistic:

  • sasboy

    Tunisia has long given women equal rights.

    But unfortunately violence against women and girls is a rampant phenomenon everywhere in the world.

  • Khizer

    Tunisia is growing and the women (along with men) are battling negative cultural norms and helping Tunisian society evolve (without abandoning their faith), this is because Tunisia is stable politically and socially, it has not been destabilised (like Iraq) by America, it has not had it’s democratic government overthrown and replaced with a military dictator subservient to the west or Israel (like in Egypt). It’s democracy has been allowed to grow and hence improve. If Tunisia was an unstable nation like Iraq, this article would not be here. The West’s plundering of muslim nations have stunted their growth intellectually, religiously, politically and socially. Glad that Tunisia is one of the few Arab nations after the Arab Spring to not have collapsed on itself. I too am glad it has not become like other secular Muslim States, that forced the Muslim population to not practise their religion freely and imposed secularisation on to them without their approval (much to the delight of many new Athiest pundits).

    I hope these women’s live genuinely improve once this law has passed, their rights should be preserved and they will fight for it. I surely hope they do not look up to the decadent lifestyle of many western women, they should build their own path away from what femenism has caused in the west. These Tunisian women should secure their rights and forge their own ‘type of femenism’, separate from the femenism practised by the secular shrieking pessimistic harpies in many western countries (fortunately many western people have grown tired of them) and amongst the rich/elite class (unfortunately) in many Muslim countries.

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